Bellingham Police arrested a man Tuesday after he allegedly exposed himself.
Now detectives are determining whether he’s connected to the numerous recent lewd conduct incidents happening around Western Washington University.
Daryl James Coates, 38, of Ferndale, was booked into Whatcom County Jail on charges of indecent exposure with a previous conviction, and a controlled substance violation.
According to Whatcom County Superior Court records, Coates has been charged with several counts of indecent exposure in two other cases this year. In one case, he was masturbating in Boulevard Park. In another, he was masturbating by a woman’s car in a parking lot in the 1500 block of H Street, and two days before, was playing with himself under his shorts, and later exposed himself to an employee at Creswell Boggs, according to court records.
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Coates also has convictions for indecent exposure from 2014, criminal trespassing, controlled substance violations, and residential burglary, according to court records.
In the recent case, officers were called to the 900 block of North Forest Street around 9:19 p.m. Tuesday on a report of a man inside a parking garage with no pants on, according to Bellingham Police Lt. Don Almer.
Officers spoke with Coates, who by that time had already put his pants back on. One of the officers knew Coates had been arrested previously for indecent exposure, Almer said.
During a search of Coates, officers found a small plastic bag full of a crystalline substance which tested positive for meth, Almer said.
Almer said a detective is looking into whether Coates is a suspect in the recent lewd conduct cases in and around Western. Although Coates’ age doesn’t match witness accounts or descriptions, Almer said that sometimes descriptions can be way off.
“Folks that have been through traumatic or charged incidents have certain limitations on memory consolidation/recollection and the like,” Almer said.
Police have investigated reports of more than 20 complaints of voyeurism or indecent exposure in the last few months, most recently Nov. 9 and Nov. 6. A man also grabbed a woman’s breasts Nov. 15, but police are unsure if it’s related to the other cases.
Police also haven’t answered questions whether several similar voyeurism incidents near Western from 2015 are related to the current cases – the 2015 cases remain unsolved.
Most of the incidents, similar to those over Halloween weekend, have happened around Western – the numerous incidents have been concentrated near Western, and the Columbia, York and Sehome neighborhoods. Police are also still unsure if five cases from early 2017 are connected.
Some of the cases show similarities, such as the suspect exposing himself or masturbating in a public place. In other instances, the suspect attracted the attention of people inside a home and exposed himself near a door or window.
In all cases, the suspect was described as a white man in his 20s, but he’s always gone before police arrive.