PARK CITY — Police arrested a Cottonwood Heights man suspected of exposing himself to children at Park City hotels while wearing nothing but a Santa hat over the past four years, typically during the city’s annual Santa Pub Crawl.
John Oliver Midthun, 57, was arrested Wednesday for investigation of lewdness and three counts of lewdness involving a child. Police believe Midthun has been exposing himself near swimming pools in Park City dating back to 2016, but only arrested him for investigation of four counts because the statute of limitation on some of the older cases has expired, according to a police affidavit.
Park City police began investigating on Dec. 10, 2016, when a man wearing only a Santa hat exposed himself to three 15-year-old girls in the hallway leading to the swimming pool at the Silver King Hotel, 1485 Empire Ave., the affidavit states. The man was gone before police arrived.
“This incident occurred in proximity to Park City’s annual Santa Pub Crawl,” according to the affidavit.
The next year, on Dec. 2, 2017, police say a man wearing only a Santa hat exposed himself to a 15-year-old girl in a hot tub at the Marriott Mountainside Hotel, 1305 Lowell Ave. Again, police could not find the man and the incident happened on the same day as the city’s annual Santa Pub Crawl.
About two hours after that incident, a man with a Santa hat exposed himself to a group of girls swimming at the Silver King, the affidavit states.
A year later on Dec. 1, 2018, police say a man at the Silver King exposed himself to a family that included a 12-year-old girl and her younger brothers. Again, the man was wearing only a Santa hat and it occurred on the same date as Park City’s annual Santa Pub Crawl, the affidavit states.
That year, however, “Park City police were conducting an undercover operation in an attempt to capture the serial exhibitionist, but the incident occurred on a different floor, and the suspect quickly fled,” according to the affidavit.
On Dec. 31, 2018, police received another report of a naked man in a Santa hat, this time on an elevated hallway overlooking the swimming pool at the Park Plaza Hotel, 2060 Sidewinder Drive, the affidavit states.
Last month, on Dec. 7, Park City police again had undercover officers at the Silver King Hotel in connection with the annual pub crawl.
“During the surveillance operation later in the evening, an unidentified suspicious adult white male was standing on an elevated hallway, observing the swimming pool occupied by two female decoys appearing as teenagers. The suspect appeared to have no objective in mind as to why he was present. When an undercover officer started approaching the suspect, he quickly exited the hotel, got into his car, and sped away, but not before police obtained the license plate and suspect vehicle description,” according to the affidavit.
Based on that information, police came up with Midthun’s name.
Then on Dec. 26, police say a man entered the Park Plaza Hotel and committed a sex act while overlooking the swimming pool.
“A hotel employee stated he remembered seeing the same suspect who exposed himself at the same hotel a year ago. The employee also stated the suspect had walked into the hotel on at least four prior occasions during the past 12 months,” according to the report.
That employee identified Midthun through a police photo lineup, the affidavit says.
On Jan. 8, police conducted surveillance on Midthun at his Cottonwood Heights home. On Wednesday, while officers were still monitoring Midthun using a GPS tracking device, police say he drove from his home to Park City and parked near the Silver King Hotel.
A short time later, a man wearing nothing but a Santa hat was reported to have exposed himself to two young girls at the swimming pool.
After he left, police conducted a traffic stop on Midthun and found a Santa hat in his jacket, the affidavit states.