MANDEVILLE, LA (WVUE) - Parents and grandparents are stunned beyond belief.
A man who apparently up until recently owned the Shiver Shack Snowball Stand remains behind bars and is accused of trading drugs and cash for sexual favors from teenage girls he hired to work at the business.
"Kind of disgusts me. People move over here because they think that their children are safe," said Lindsay Dugas who was watching her small kids play in a water park in the nearby Mandeville Trailhead.
Mandeville Police said 56-year-old Anthony Barton Fortune faces a slew of charges related to inappropriate sexual behavior with teenage employees.
"It was sexual in nature, there was some inappropriate touching and grooming," said Capt. Gerald Sticker of the Mandeville PD.
He said the four victims were between 14 and 16 years old and were given things in exchange for sexual favors while they were on the job over a two-month period which began in June.
"He hired these juveniles, the female juveniles and after they were employed by him began to cultivate a relationship with them through cash and illegal narcotics," Sticker said.
Among other evidence, investigators found marijuana when they executed a search warrant.
"We have photographic evidence of both the offender and the victims," said Sticker.
Across the street from the business at a recreational area and the popular Trailhead, parents and grandparents were outraged over the news.
"I think it's terrible just that people would do that. I mean, it's sickening, you know? It really is," said Dennis White, who was with his daughter and her kids.
"I just think it's kind of disheartening that somebody could own a business so close to an area where kids play," said Dugas.
Police were alerted two weeks ago and began investigating.
"It was a culmination of all the interviews and all the evidence that we obtained from subpoenas and searches leading up to yesterday's big search warrant and arrest that basically gave us enough probable cause," said Sticker.
Jesse Necaise told the media he is one of the new owners of the business, and that Fortune had not been involved for at least a week and half. He said none of the crimes happened under the current ownership.
"We want to let you all know that it has been under new ownership and he is not affiliated in any way whatsoever with this building, or the restaurant, or the bike rentals, or the snowball stand," he said.
Among the charges Fortune faces: obstruction of justice, possession of Schedule I narcotics, possession of Scheduled narcotics in the presence of juveniles, carnal knowledge of a juvenile, indecent behavior with a juvenile, sexual battery and child trafficking for sexual purposes.
"You got to be vigilant, you got to stay on top, watch your kids and just question them what they're doing, you know," said White.
Fortune's bond was set at $338,000.