LEWISTON, Maine — Police thanked the public for helping locate a 56-year-old man who is charged with exposing himself to two children Saturday in Sunnyside Park.
John G. Garshva, of 156 Holland St. in Lewiston, remained in the Androscoggin County Jail on $2,500 bond Sunday night. He is charged with two felony counts of visual sexual aggression for exposing himself to the two children, both under the age of 12, and one count each of assault and criminal threatening.
“Obviously, we praise the assistance of the community in helping us find this guy,” Lewiston police Lt. David St. Pierre said.
St. Pierre said the initial call about Garshva came in just before 2 p.m. According to witnesses, the two victims came screaming from the woods near Sunnyside Park, located between Winter Street and the Androscoggin River next to River Cemetery. The children said a man exposed himself to them.
St. Pierre said when police arrived adults in the area were already looking for Garshva and continued to assist police in their search. One of the men who helped with the initial search called police again at 6:15 p.m. to inform them he had found the suspect sleeping in the woods under some brush.
The assault and criminal threatening charges stem from Garshva hitting one of the men with a stick and threatening both of them before police arrived.
St. Pierre did not know whether or not the men who assisted in the search were relatives of the children or not.
Garshva has a long history with authorities in both Maine and Massachusetts. In 2006, while living in Topsham, he was sentenced to nine months in jail after pleading guilty to two stalking charges, one involving a 9-year-old girl in Lisbon and the other involving a case in Lewiston.
Garshva was arrested in June 2006 by Lisbon police after concerned neighbors reported seeing a man attempting to get a 9-year-old girl into his pickup truck by offering her money. He was later charged in a stalking incident in Lewiston that was reported after the story about the Lisbon arrest appeared in the newspaper.
At the time, a detective with the Lisbon Police Department was quoted in the Sun Journal as saying he would have liked to have seen a longer sentence imposed. But under Maine law the maximum jail time would have only been one year because the charges were both class D misdemeanors under Maine law because Maine’s stalking law makes no distinction based on the ages of victims.
Garshva is listed on the Maine Sex Offender Registry website as being convicted in Massachusetts of intent to commit rape, indecent assault and battery, and on three charges of open and gross lewd and lascivious behavior, all between 1989 and 1994.