KEY WEST, Fla. – Police arrested a 45-year-old Key West man Wednesday evening after they said he stripped nude in the water at a beach and tried to get two young girls to swim with him — and later tried to use a medical condition as an excuse for bathing in the buff.
According to an arrest report from the Key West Police Department, the girls told officers that they were playing in the water on a paddleboard attached to the pier at Higgs Beach when Claude Michael Bazo approached, took off his red shorts and began swimming naked.
The girls told police that Bazo tried “multiple times” to get the girls, described as “obviously pre-pubescent (and) wearing two-piece bikinis,” to “come swim with him” while he was naked in the water.
Officer Joshua Hesse wrote in the report that the girls were clearly traumatized as they recounted what happened, as they were “visibly shaking, speaking rapidly, taking short, rapid breaths (and) making rapid and nervous movements.” One of the girls appeared to have just been crying, he wrote.
“Both girls indicated that they were immediately frightened by the suggestive sexual conduct posed to them by Bazo,” Hesse wrote.
Hesse wrote that the girls’ fear was “intensified” by the fact that there was no one else around at the time, until a family member walked up to the “obviously distraught” girls and asked if they were OK.
That relative took the girls out of the water and called someone else for help, police said. After arriving, that woman confronted Bazo, who was “still naked in the water,” the report states.
“Bazo immediately started yelling at her, making statements that he was an attorney and he would sue her,” Hesse wrote.
The woman called 911 after taking photographs of the unclothed Bazo, along with the silver van he got into following the confrontation, police said.
Police said another officer located Bazo’s van a short time later at 3114 Flagler Ave. and found him wearing oversized blue swim trunks, no shirt and “wet from head to toe.” They said they saw a pair of red swim shorts on the floor, also soaked.
The report states that officers read Bazo his Miranda rights, which he said he understood as an attorney. Bazo is not listed as a licensed attorney in The Florida Bar’s database.
He spoke to police and became “immediately defensive,” saying “the lady...at the beach was taking pictures of him for no reason and he did nothing wrong,” police said.
Police said he later admitted to being nude after being shown one of the photos.
However, Bazo said he was only naked at the time because he “suffers from eczema” and the saltwater “soothes” the chafing from sitting inside his van all day, according to the report.
Police later arrested Bazo on 10 charges: Two felony counts of child abuse without great bodily harm, two felony counts of directing or promoting a sexual performance by a child, plus two misdemeanor counts each of indecent exposure, disorderly conduct and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Bazo, who was scheduled to be arraigned on June 28, was being held in the Monroe County Jail on a $50,000 bond.