Park may get name change amid sex abuse allegations

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Accusations that a well-known Winter Park man sexually abused children could prompt city leaders to pull his name off a popular Orange County park.

Fleet Peeples Park was named in honor of Fleetwood Peeples in 1985. He was Rollins College's aquatics director and taught thousands of local children how to swim.

But since the arrest of Peeples' son for allegedly having child porn and molesting children, several women have come forward with accusations that the swimming instructor sexually abused them as children. Now city leaders plan to change the name of the popular dog park named after Peeples.

Eleanor Crawford said her daughter revealed to her years ago that she had been molested by Peeples during an outdoors trip years earlier.

"I wish I'd had not sent her camping. But when I saw these children come back and they had such a wonderful time, I really didn't give it any thought," Crawford said.

Twenty years after his death, the allegations have come to light and prompted leaders to question the park's name.

"I don't think the accolades that were heaped upon his head were deserved. I don't feel punitive about it. Too much time has passed, but I think sometimes there's a point where the truth should come out," Crawford said.

Winter Park officials told Channel 9 there is no way to prove or disprove the women's accusations, but said, "Because of the number of people that have come forward and because of the severity of their claims, city staff believes the community is best served by returning the park back to its original name."

Crawford said she's glad that Winter Park is considering changing the park's name.

"I just don't think that people should continue to worship the ground he walked on, so to speak," Crawford said.

City commissioners will vote next week on going back to the park's original name, which is Lake Baldwin Park.