Cops: Salvation Army Volunteer Exposed Himself

Tennessee "bell ringer" faces indecency charge

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Bell Ringer Busted

DECEMBER 14--A Salvation Army “bell ringer” stationed outside a Tennessee supermarket exposed himself after a child dropped money into the donation kettle, police charge.

Cops were dispatched Thursday afternoon to a Food City outlet in Kingsport after a man called 911 to report that a Salvation Army volunteer had “lifted up his red apron” and exposed his genitalia, which the suspect had “pulled out from the inside of his pants.”

The lewd act, witness Cody Estes reported, occurred after his four-year-old son placed change into the Salvation Army’s trademark red kettle. Estes told police that the boy did not notice the volunteer exposing himself.

While suspect William Martin, 61, initially denied any wrongdoing, he “eventually admitted to the illicit act,” according to a Kingsport Police Department arrest affidavit.

As first reported by the Kingsport Times-News, a review of store surveillance footage appeared to show Martin--who was seated in a lawn chair--fondling himself under his Salvation Army apron “as customers, including children, entered and exited the store,” cops allege.

Martin, charged with indecent exposure, was arraigned Friday on the misdemeanor count. He has also been trespassed from all Food City locations.

A Salvation Army spokesperson described Martin and his wife as “longtime trusted bell ringers who we’ve known for years.” The couple has been stripped of their bell ringing duties, according to the official, who added that Martin contended that he never intended to expose himself.

Martin is scheduled for a March 3 General Sessions Court hearing. (3 pages)