December 18, 2009

A jury has convicted Erick Williamson of a crime for being naked inside his own house.

"If you're in a private place and take your clothes off, you have not committed a crime."/"What if you're in a private place and standing in front of a big plate-glass window?"

40 comments:

vbspurs said...

The standard for public nudity should always be -- was it intentional? In other words, was there a creep factor involved. The answer by any metric in this case has got to be no.

I am sorry for the mother. I too wouldn't like my child looking a strange man naked. But come on now -- common sense lady. He's in his house and a stern warning would've sufficed.

reader_iam said...

Fine. There's the precedent set. Onward ho, and may we all live happily ever after with it.

So it goes.

wv: zingr

reader_iam said...

Feel sorry for the mother, of all involved? Why on earth?

traditionalguy said...

This reminds me of the Italian Court's decision on the weirdo American girl last week. The verdict is. "not guilty, but probably needs to be locked up anyway".

E.M. Davis said...

People who live in glass houses shouldn't show stones?

reader_iam said...
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reader_iam said...

The standard for public nudity should always be -- was it intentional?

Well, there's also time, place and actions, so far as the standard[s] go--and as well for the actions and intent of the viewers. For starters.

Clearly, I've got real problems with this story, this court case & its course, & etc. At the same time, I'm coming from a way different place. Or so it appears.

John Burgess said...

There are different states and cities who view the matter differently. In some, you're fine as long as you're on your own property and not flashing. Women can go topless on the streets of NYC, for example.

Others have stricter senses of propriety.

As a general rule, it's good to know what the laws are where you're living.

john said...

EM Davis - that's funny.

Legal question: Is it common to only get a bench trial at first, but on appeal you get a jury trial? Can a suspect request an initial jury trial? The story reads like O'Flaherty was set on finding Williamson guilty.

(Although if Williamson spoke in his own behalf, he may have helped the judge's decision. He comes off like a goofball.)

reader_iam said...

The standard for public nudity should always be -- was it intentional? In other words, was there a creep factor involved.

Honestly, I'm not getting the direct connection between this two sentences.

So--for just one example--if a woman goes topless on a public beach in various European (and elsewhere beaches, and even a few in the U.S.) intentionally, does that also mean--due to the intentionality of it--that, in other words, there's
a creep factor" involved?

Honestly, WTF?

kentuckyliz said...

E.M. Davis wins the thread.

This was the case where the mother and son were trespassing on the guy's property, and she called her husband, a cop?

So has she been arrested for trespassing yet?

Duscany said...

But what if he was naked in his own shower? Shouldn't he have to wear shower pants? What if a neighbor lady noticed his open living room door, came inside, heard water running, went in the bathroom, opened the shower door and--oh, the horror of it.

What is it about a man in his birthday suit that makes some women get a case of the vapors (and juries agree with them)? Are women really such fragile flowers they have to be protected from unexpected nudity. What do they do when they are out in the country and see a horse in a pasture, a goat, a bull, or even a male dog for that matter? Life for them must be one shocking ordeal after another.

vbspurs said...

Honestly, WTF?

I've had quite enough of you following me around, quibbling with every little word I write. Stop reading me if it's such a trial.

reader_iam said...

Victoria: It's not a trial, at all. I don't quibble with every little word you write (far from it). I can't respond to the "following me around" bit unless you specify what you mean (and also what you might be trying to imply). As for the "quite enough" ... well, that's an occupational hazard of being an online commenter and following online comments sections, especially w/r/t to blogs such as Althouse's. You always knew that--or at least it was my impression that you always knew that--from the very start. I admired you for it (and still do). I even wished, from the start, I could understand and be more like that. What's changed?

vbspurs said...

What's changed?

It's been YEARS of you showing touchiness about my manner, my words, my background. This isn't a sudden thing, so please don't pretend it's otherwise.

So here is what I'll do: You read me all you want and make oblique posts about what I write. But I'll leave you and what you write totally alone. As ever.

There, flare up and problem solved.

reader_iam said...

All right, Victoria. We'll leave it at your interpretation.

Julius Ray Hoffman said...

The Washington Post article does a terrible job because it ignores the HUGE question: Will Williamson be considered a "sex offender"?

If he's not, then no big deal, and everyone can move along. No jail time, and the fine is just a fine and nothing significant.

If so, then he will experience hardship, harassment, and stigmatization for the rest of his life.

Ralph L said...

I'll bet there's a back story to this. The women didn't like having a house full of (probably rowdy) young men around, or they didn't get invites to their parties.

If he'd been wanking in the front window, she'd have something to stand on.

EDH said...
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EDH said...
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Darrell said...

The mother and her child were on a public path between property lines that has been used for decades by the people that live in the blocks behind the home to catch the school bus. It is the designated stop for the kids in that particular area. They see the naked man for the first time standing in the doorway between the house and attached garage, as the main garage door is open. The naked man then follows in the direction of their travel to a picture window along their route where they see him a second time, calming drinking his beverage making no effort to keep hidden or move away from sight. Was it intentional--especially the second exhibition? Hell yes. Refusing to open the door when the police came to question him (when they could see him through the window) was just the icing on the cake. Getting the story to the media first in order to garner sympathy almost worked. His recent history of setbacks--getting kicked out by his wife, disorderly conduct arrests, weird behavior are signs he needs help/needs to be watched. So is that look in his eyes when the mother--the cop's wife--made eye contact twice. I'll trust that is the real reason she called it in to the station.

EDH said...

But [Judge] O'Flaherty wasn't buying it and likened Williamson to bank robber John Dillinger, who also "thought he was doing nothing wrong when he walked into banks and shot them up."

In terms of explaining why the government would prosecute somebody for being nude in his own home, I'm reminded more of bank robber Willie Sutton's famous quote:

"Because that's where the nude people are."

G Joubert said...

If this were just a case of a naked man minding his own business in his own home who got peeped by a trespasser --as he claims-- I'd defend him. But it seems that's not quite the case. It's more a case of him being a flasher, with the only thing distinguishing him from other flashers is that he does it from the inner sanctums of his home, which he obviously thought protected him.

Shanna said...

Refusing to open the door when the police came to question him

Was he still naked when the police came? As a general rule, alot of people don't answer the door naked.

I think this guy is on the line between acceptable/not acceptable but as a general rule, I think you should be able to be naked in your house.

Richard Fagin said...

Texas Penal Code Sec. 21.08. INDECENT EXPOSURE. (a) A person commits an offense if he exposes his anus or any part of his genitals with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person, and he is reckless about whether another is present who will be offended or alarmed by his act.


(b) An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor.

Practially, the first element of the crime is nearly impossible to prove, so the de facto result will be whether the second element of the crime can be proven. You stand bare butt nekkid in front of a picture window, and someone sees you, its a foregone conclusion that you're guilty. At least here it's only a misdemeanor.

Big Mike said...

For the second time in as many days I am requesting you add the tag "Dickens was right" to a story, Professor.

Matt Eckert said...

Oooohhhhh catfight!

Flexo said...
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Flexo said...
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Flexo said...

Since this was General District Court -- which DOES NOT HAVE JURIES -- a jury did not convict the defendant. It was a bench trial.

AND IT ENDED THE WAY I SAID IT WOULD -- GUILTY. (I'm not going to repeat what I said a few months ago.)

Under Virginia law -- statute and case law -- the conviction is entirely sustainable.

As for the appeal -- if one is convicted in General District Court, he can appeal to the Circuit Court for a trial de novo. Circuit Court DOES have a jury if EITHER side chooses to have a trial by jury. If a jury convicts, the jury decides the sentence, which the judge can suspend in whole or in part, but cannot increase.

Flexo said...

I won't repeat what I said months ago, but I will note this difference in the known facts -- the original story was merely of a woman and her son seeing the defendant. At trial, it was disclosed that there were two separate incidents of this guy showing off his stuff to the world. Once is unintentional, twice is "look at me!"

As for defense counsel's argument -- what he argued is not the law in Virginia (if he had bothered to research it).

Vickie said...

Definitely a creep factor there. He was trying to be seen, that's creepy.

Joe said...

I'm still trying to figure out how this kid was harmed in any way. There is something very perverse that this is even seen as a wicked crime.

kentuckyliz said...

Not sure what singing and moaning have to do with anything.

Yvette Dean looked again! Hoor.

Hey, if he's being painted as acting in a sexually pervy way, her looking again is, too.

This article didn't highlight the fact that they were trespassing on his property, like the previous article.

This article didn't mention that he didn't make any provocative gestures or say anything, like the previous article did.

Punishing the unconventional. Who makes a living as a diver? Mountain Dew commercial adventure boiz. Unconventional.

So does he have to wear a scarlet P now?

LOL

kentuckyliz said...

From the WaPo site:
boblund1 wrote:
Williamson couldn't have drawn a worse judge. It's common knowledge in the Fairfax County Court system O'Flaherty is rather an odd and bizarre person at his best. The attempt at a Dillinger analogy is pure O'Flaherty. Only in O'Flaherty's mind would an equation be made between an infamous bank robber and an unclothed guy in his own home. It's time for O'Flaherty to retire.

rhadamanthus wrote:
I can't believe this story is back. Did anyone see the pictures from the last story? The trail that the woman used with her son is a full back yard away from this man's door.

A person would have to look pretty carefully to even notice anyone was in the doorway....

Except that some perverted Mary with a crooked cop husband decided to get all indignant and waste *MY* tax dollars to have 5 of his cop friends harass this dude.

If I could sign a petition to have this woman, her husband, and his corrupt cop buddies flayed for this farce, I would!

Calabrese99 wrote:
Why didn't they arrest the woman for peeping?

kentuckyliz said...

webfool wrote:
How close do you have to be to a house to hear moaning? or singing? And what was she doing that close to his house at 6:15am? or 6:35am?

Sorry sister- I,m not buying it. Maybe he looked out a window and didn't see you but I think this whole thing is bogus.

snowbucks wrote:
The poor kid. His mother probably makes him wear jeans and a sweatshirt in the bathtub!

UnitedStatesofAmerica wrote:
That Anyone can actually be convicted in the USA, of public nudity, In their own home - is the true obscenity.

That an actual sitting “judge” could compare private nudity to the actions of one of America’s most violent criminals is a sign of how twisted and perverted the legal system has become. It is little wonder that the majority of Americans no longer trust the legal system or its corrupt agents.

Is there little doubt that the US is becoming a police state?

kentuckyliz said...

JAHatGW wrote:
The law in Virginia governing indecent exposure includes language requiring the act to occur in a public place. Thus the case was wrongly decided and should be overturned on appeal. The judge should also receive a reprimand or even be referred to the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission for possible sanctions. He ignored the law and used a subjective test, namely the length of time the defendant was allegedly naked, as a basis for convicting him. Here's the full text of Virginia's indecent exposure law:

� 18.2-387. Indecent exposure.

Every person who intentionally makes an obscene display or exposure of his person, or the private parts thereof, in any public place, or in any place where others are present, or procures another to so expose himself, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. No person shall be deemed to be in violation of this section for breastfeeding a child in any public place or any place where others are present.

(Code 1950, � 18.1-236; 1960, c. 233; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1994, c. 398.)

In this case, the defendant was in his home, not a public place, and in his home, others were not present. The defendant cannot be held responsible for the presence of passersby on a public street beyond the bounds of his property, at least not the way this law is written. While The Washington Post did well to report the story, the article lacked any reference to the actual law under which the man was prosecuted. Comments from judges or attorneys on the evidentiary standard necessary for a conviction under this law would have been helpful.

ggreenbaum wrote:
Agreed. I've been before O'Flaherty as a lawyer. He was angry he could do nothing to a client of mine, so he baited him into contempt and gave him two ten day sentences. I can't see a seven member jury not having one voice of reason on it. Note that the law on public place is a bit frazzled, since identical language occurs in the disorderly conduct statute, it has been held to include someone's front stoop, so I don't know about the window thing, we'll have to see.

StrictHandD said...

What a sad joke.... Next that will get you for farting in your own house.... Get real people.... What you do in your own home is not any ones biss but your own!!!!!!
And really Lady. If you don't like it, don't look......

Gilda said...

Why wasn't the lady that called the police arrested for looking in his window? I would say she's a PEEPING TOM!!! ARREST HER NOT THIS GENTLEMAN WHO WAS IN HIS OWN HOME!

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