ANDOVER — A Wakefield man claimed he was standing outside a local school snapping photos of students for a documentary, but after a foot chase through backyards while stripping his clothing, police aren't buying his story.
"We don't know what his intention and purpose was around the school and the kids," said police Lt. James Hashem.
But Michael Olivio's employer has come forward to back up his story. Olivio, 48, works for the anti-gay rights group MassResistance.org. Brian Camenker, head of the group, said Olivio mistakenly went to West Middle School Tuesday to snap pictures instead of the high school.
Camenker said Olivio was to get pictures of the high school because the state Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Transgendered Youth held a meeting there Monday night.
"I figured I would do a write-up for the Web site and I wanted a picture of the high school," Camenker said.
Police said the incident happened at West Middle as children were being let out of school. As parents watched, Olivio parked his car, got out, and began taking many pictures of the school and the students.
Police received a flood of 911 calls from parents and soon the school called. A gym teacher tried to talk to Olivio, who fled toward the high school, police said.
Camenker said Olivio realized he was at the wrong school and jogged over to the high school to get the picture.
"I didn't even want any pictures of the kids,'' Camenker said.
He said Olivio did not recall hearing the gym teacher trying to talk to him.
When police caught him, Olivio said he was taking pictures for a documentary and he would not elaborate on it," Hashem said. Hashem said police could not associate him with any media organization.
"The answers were somewhat vague and suspicious," he said.
Olivio was ordered to leave the area because police had no reason to detain him further. But then the man began to act erratically, Hashem said.
After being told to leave the area, Olivio ran through yards on Shawsheen Road and nearby side streets, shedding clothing as he ran, police said.
He had removed several items of clothing before officers finally caught him on North Main Street and placed him in handcuffs, Hashem said.
"He was not completely naked," Hashem said.
Camenker said Olivio absolutely did not remove any articles of clothing.
He said a police officer there at the high school called him a pedophile or child molester as he was walking away. Some kids in the area had heard the officer's comment and began chasing him on foot, and at one point assaulted him, Camenker said.
Camenker said Olivio also was chased by students in a car.
Camenker said when police arrested Olivio, they towed his car, which was legally parked.
"He was walking back to his car and the cops were there and handcuffed him," Camenker said.
Camenker said Olivio had never done this kind of work and when police began questioning him "he sort of got excited and flustered and didn't really know what to say."
Camenker said his "pro-family" organization advocates for parents in the educational system and has done so since 1995.
Hashem said police have alerted local schools and area police departments to try and determine what Olivio may have been up to.
"He doesn't have any previous incidents such as this," Hashem said. "He doesn't appear to have a criminal record."
Camenker said he attended Olivio's arraignment in Lawrence District Court and that they were considering legal action against the police. Olivio was charged with disorderly conduct.