A little more than five years ago, a randy couple put The Villages in a spotlight the community didn’t want to be in.
Villager Margaret “Peggy” Klem and a Summerfield man nearly 20 years her junior, David Alan Bobilya, made national and international headlines when they were caught by a Sumter County sheriff’s deputy while having sex at the pavilion at Lake Sumter Landing Market Square.
The mega-retirement community had reeled for years about being an STD mecca after a Villages gynecologist in 2006 was quoted as saying she’d treated more cases of herpes and human papillomavirus in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown than she did when she practiced in Miami. She later somewhat recanted the statement but the rumor was alive and spreading like wildfire – much to the dismay of the vast majority of retirees who had elected to call The Villages home and the brass that ran the community.
Fast-forward to June 2014 and The Villages was back in the news in a tawdry way. This time a 68-year-old female resident was having sex with a 49-year-old man in a public place – heavy-hitters such as President George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, Gov. Rick Scott and Sarah Palin had spoken there – that could be seen by any number of people walking or driving by Market Square. Once again, The Villages was the butt of a great many jokes and residents of the community were far from amused.
The sheriff’s deputy’s report indicated that Klemm’s pants had been removed and her shirt was pulled down. The report also said that Bobilya’s jeans and underwear were down around his ankles and when the deputy arrived, he ordered the couple to get dressed.
During the investigation, it was revealed that Klemm, of the Village of Pennecamp, had recently been arrested in Sumter County for driving a golf cart while under the influence. She told the deputy the charge had been reduced and she was told to report to probation soon.
Both Klemm and Bobilya were transported to the Sumter County Jail, facing indecent exposure and disorderly conduct charges. And the story that would dominate headlines for months to come was just starting to unfold.
In the days that followed the infamous sexual escapade, Klemm’s attorney, Joseph Indelicato, said he was anticipating a favorable outcome for his client, even though she had just turned herself in at the Sumter County Detention Center after a warrant had been issued for her arrest on a probation violation. She had entered a plea of not guilty in the incident that would become known as the Sex on the Square case and requested a trial by jury.
Five days after the Market Square sexual rendezvous, a Villages business decided that it was time to capitalize on the story that just kept getting bigger and bigger. Red Sauce, located mere feet away from where the sexual encounter took place, introduced a new drink called Sex on the Square, which was a concoction of light and dark rum, pineapple and orange juice, whipping cream, and to complete the impact, a cherry on top. It made its debut for $3.75 and was a big seller – but far from a hit with The Villages brass who feared home sales in the community could take a hit and wanted nothing more than for the story to just go away.
On July 3, Bobilya was sentenced by Sumter County Judge Thomas D. Skidmore to six months behind bars for his role in the illicit tryst. His sentence was broken down as 180 days on the indecent exposure charge and 60 days on the disorderly conduct charge, with the sentences running concurrently.
Bobilya also was sentenced to 12 months of probation, fined $253 and ordered to pay $50 per each day of his incarceration.
Five days later, prosecutors made it known that they wanted Klemm to serve one year in jail. Attorney Indelicato called that offer unacceptable and said it was becoming more likely that Klemm would take her case before a jury.
Several days later, with Klemm behind bars in Sumter County on the probation violation connected to her driving under the influence sentencing, Indelicato announced that he was no longer involved in the case, having been replaced by attorney Allan H. Kaye, of Gainesville.
Not surprisingly, Skidmore’s sentencing of Bobilya to six months in jail and his anticipated sentencing of Klemm in the days ahead stirred quite a debate among Villagers. Some said it was too harsh for the crime. And at about the same time Klemm’s children appealed to the public for help with her legal defense.
On July 30, Klemm entered pleas of no contest and was sentenced by Skidmore to 180 days on charges of exposure of sexual organs, disorderly conduct and a probation violation. She already had spent a month and a half behind bars, so she was facing another 135 days in the Sumter County Detention Center.
Klemm’s sentence was broken down as:
- Violation of probation: 90 days in jail, $50 fine, $50 court costs.
- Exposure of sexual organs: 180 days in jail, $250 fine, $106.30 court costs, $50 cost of probation.
- Disorderly conduct: 60 days in jail, $250 fine, $50 daily cost of incarceration at the jail.
The jail time was to be served concurrently, with Klemm scheduled to be released from the detention center at the end of the second week in December. Her husband, Frank, was in court as Klemm was sentenced and she he was eager for her to come home.
“Everybody deserves a second chance,” he said, adding that he was thankful for the support of friends and family during the difficult time.
In October, with the case still fresh in many people’s minds, a song titled “Sex on the Square” debuted during a party in The Villages. Outlaw country artist Dale Griffin had written the song about three weeks earlier and unveiled it during an evening party at a home in the Haciendas of Mission Hills.
Like so many others who have heard the story of the infamous case, Griffin was struck by the harsh punishment.
“Six months? Really?” he asked.
In November, after being released early from jail, Klemm reached out to Villages-News.com to talk about her situation. She turned 69 while behind bars and lost 30 pounds, but said she was grateful to God and her family for the power of forgiveness.
“The hardest part is trying to forgive myself,” said the mother of four and grandmother of 13. “Without God, my faith, my family and friends and even strangers, I could not have endured the punishment,” she added.
While in jail, Klemm said her fellow inmates knew about her case.
“They thought it was a joke,” she said. “There were people in there who had done far worse things.”
While serving her time, Klemm worked in the laundry, earning “good time” and “work time” toward her early release. When she walked out of the jail on Nov. 1, her husband was there to pick her up.
“He is a wonderful man,” she said.
Klemm said the legal fees and $50-per-day incarceration fees cost the couple dearly and they had to cash in some life insurance policies. But she said she was seeing life through a different lens since her release.
“It’s just amazing to look up and see the birds and the sky,” she said.
And she said she looked forward to helping people who may find themselves in a difficult situation.
“I will pay forward all of the love and kindness and support shown by friends and family,” Klemm said.
The following month, Villages-News.com announced that the Sex on the Square was the top story of 2014. It was followed by the death of Villages Developer H. Gary Morse and the story of a Villages couple who also was sentenced to six months behind bars after they were caught having sex on a utility box behind the wall at the Morse Boulevard circle off U.S. Hwy. 27/441.