EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Concerned residents say sexually-deviant behavior has been disrupting their sense of comfort and security in their West El Paso neighborhood.

Multiple reports in the Kern Place neighborhood near UTEP claim that a man in his late 20s to early 30s has been following women on foot and in his car and publicly masturbating. 

Reports have been filed with the El Paso Police Department, which is aware of the sexually-deviant behavior and a sex-crime detective is conducting an investigation. 

El Paso police spokesman Sgt. Enrique Carrillo tells KTSM 9 News to call 911 if you see the suspect (or anyone else) engaging in sexually-deviant behavior like public masturbation, and obtain as many descriptive details on the suspect and vehicle if possible. 

Neighbors have reported in NextDoor and Facebook groups that the behavior is on-going and people are concerned for their safety.

G.M. Gates, a Kern Place resident, told KTSM that he noticed women and girls being followed by a man in a silver Chevrolet, and Gates later saw posts on NextDoor describing similar encounters with a man in the same kind of vehicle. 

“I took screenshots of the pictures from NextDoor and posted it to numerous Facebook pages,” Gates said. 

“Before I knew it, more than 700 people had shared it, and a few women came forward to say they were being followed by this man, too.” 

One report claims that while masturbating, the man drove alongside a group of women who were walking in the neighborhood.

Another resident describes a similar encounter with a man who drove alongside a woman and her toddler. 

According to an article published in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, sexual deviance was originally considered on a spectrum of morality, but modern science has revealed that sexual deviancy is a mental health issue. 

Researchers say private masturbation is a natural and healthy expression of sexuality but can be weaponized to assert control through making someone — usually of the fairer sex — uncomfortable. 

Masturbation is considered the most common form of sexual deviancy, and when performed publicly, it takes on a degree of exhibitionism, also a form of sexually-deviant behavior.

During the rise of the #MeToo movement, multiple credible allegations were revealed of high-power men like convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein and disgraced comedian Louis C.K. forcing women to watch them pleasure themselves.

Sex therapist Dr. Alexandra Katehakis, clinical director for the Center for Healthy Sex in Los Angeles, told NBC News that sexual exhibitionism like public masturbation is about forcing the viewer to feel fear, shame, and powerless. 

“Exhibitionism is not about sex,” she said. “It’s about purposely provoking shock and fear in a female,” she said.

“The shock on a woman’s face that he’s torturing is where the arousal lies. It’s in her humiliation.”