Teacher awarded by police after noticing sex offender in Apex park

APEX, NC (WTVD) -- A Wake County substitute teacher was recognized Wednesday with a citizen recognition coin for helping police catch a sex offender who was talking to teenagers at a park.

The story was previously reported by ABC11's Ed Crump.

Substitute teacher Karen Donaldson was honored Wednesday at Green Hope High School.

Donaldson was at an Apex park with her grandson two weeks ago when she said she overheard a man talking to two girls about sex.

She reported him to the police.

Police discovered 36-year-old Jonathan Hartgrove was on the sex offender registry.

He was charged with being a sex offender on child premises, possession of drug paraphernalia, including needles and violating probation.

The search warrant said that Hartgrove admitted to police he would go to the skate park to film people for his YouTube channel.

"I have no doubt what the man's intentions were and it was to prey upon, sexually, these girls," Donaldson said.

"You've heard it said before, see something, say something," Chief Letteney said. "It's very simple. If you see something you believe is a problem, is maybe a public safety issue, then you have the ability and are empowered to do something about it. In this case, it was call the police."

Donaldson used this incident as a teaching moment for her students.

"It made me reflect on myself and how I would react," Tenth-grade student Gabi Gonzalez said.

"It wasn't about honoring me," said Donaldson. "It was about honoring choosing doing the right thing."
Copyright © 2020 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.