Police in Texarkana, Texas, responded after fast-food restaurant employees acted on the adage, “if you see something, say something.”
They are glad they did, and as a result, 79-year-old Michael Clark was charged with indecency with a child and solicitation of prostitution, according to KFVS-TV.
Texarkana police posted on Facebook the saga of the quick-thinking workers who ruined whatever might have been planned on a day when a suspected child abuser met his match.
“We got a 911 call from the employees at the Whataburger on New Boston Road a little before noon on Tuesday. They told us that a juvenile girl and an older man were there eating together and something didn’t seem right about the situation,” the post said.
“As we started trying to figure out what was going on, it became increasingly obvious that their instincts were spot on,” the post said.
“Turns out that the two barely knew each other,” the post said.
But the two had a brief but dark history, according to the report.
Police said the girl, who was 13, told them that Clark “offered her money in exchange for sexual favors that day and had inappropriately touched her during a previous encounter a few weeks before.”
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“He picked up the girl in his truck as she walked down the street just before they went to the Whataburger that morning,” the post said.
After interviewing multiple parties, Clark was arrested.
The post said he was being held in the Bi-State Jail with bond set at $225,000.
Today is Child Exploitation Awareness Day.
Throughout the day Saint Mary’s SARC will be sharing signs of exploitation and how to spot them.
If you see something. Say something.#HelpingHands #CEADay23 #EndCSEin23 pic.twitter.com/F0PaPhUGM3
— Saint Mary’s SARC (@StmarysSARC) March 18, 2023
“This is just another example of why it’s so important to speak up if you notice something that doesn’t feel right,” Shawn Vaughn, a representative of the Texarkana Texas Police Department, said, according to the Texarkana Gazette.
“We’re thankful the Whataburger employees followed their instincts in this case and said something,” Vaughn said.
A poster using the name Ford LeDawn noted on the Texarkana police Facebook page that “At the end of the day these are GROWN MEN. If you know that GROWN MEN are having “encounters” with a minor and you don’t step up…YOU’RE PART OF THE PROBLEM!!”
“Awesome job by whataburger employees! Thank you for speaking up!!” a poster using the name Lezli Pierce wrote. “Thank you to the cops that took this seriously, too. So grateful to know there are still some folks that will step up and speak up.”