Recent Broward Law Blog Features

Monday, October 26, 2009

Indecent Exposure Brouhaha Nothing New to Floridians

Equus he is not, but the way Eric Williamson of Virginia tells it to the Washington Post, he might have been making coffee or flipping eggs when a woman and her 7-year-old son walked by his house and saw him, through the window, naked.

He says he never saw them and never knew they'd seen him -- until the police showed up. In a case that gained international attention last week, hitting a nerve for anyone who has ever dashed from the bedroom to the laundry room in the buff, Williamson was charged with indecent exposure.

There are conflicting accounts of what happened Monday morning, but everyone agrees on this: The 29-year-old was naked and home alone, and he could face up to a year in jail.

"I looked straight at the cops and said, 'You're telling me that none of you guys have ever walked across your kitchen or run to the laundry room to get some pants?' " said Williamson, who was handcuffed and taken before a magistrate. "I was treated like an animal. If there was something offensive, would not a knock on the door and heads-up suffice?"

This is nothing new to Floridians. Years ago, in Southwest Florida, a couple making love in a first floor condo next to the community swimming pool was similarly prosecuted. The legal standard is that you have a right to be naked in your own home but that nakedness is compromised by the fact that your shades better be closed because if you are looking out your living room bay windows stark naked and your neighbors can see you its off to the hoosegow.

The legal dispute in the Fairfax case will probably be whether the nude dude intended to be seen. Now I have a roommate who occasionally gets up in the middle of the nite to grab a smoke and walk the dogs, and I swear to God sometimes he forgets that he sleeps naked.

The element of intent is critical in Virginia. It defines indecent exposure as the intentionally obscene display of private parts in a public place or "any place where others are present."

Come on, how many times have you seen your neighbor walk outside on a Sunday morning in a bathrobe and bend down to pick up his newspaper while revealing more than the newsprint? The amazing aspect of this is that the guy is now caught up in this media whirlwind which will play out on blogs and tv newscasts across the globe.

Having blogged last week that California is disallowing nudity on some of its public beaches, this new piece fits right in to that tired American puritanism which still captures our need for lust and lewdness. Nudity is news, whether it is in a public park for a community photograph, or on bicycles for the Nude Bicyclists of America, who I blogged about a few months ago.

Years ago, at a place called the Seminole Health Club, I served as a judge in their annual nudist contest, courtesy of an invitation from long time South Florida icon Pat Mascola, the publisher of Around Town Magazine. Once, in a lifetime far away, after a ten mile swim, I remember coming back into my Coral Springs apartment, looking at myself in a mirror, and saying, "I like my body." That was 35 years ago though. Now I think if somebody saw my body, it would be a crime that shocked the conscience. I am thinking maybe I should have to do community service or pay for their therapy.

I feel kind of sorry for this guy. First of all, this is not the way you want to become famous. Half the community will forever think he is a pervert. He has to hire a lawyer whose best defense is going to be that the evidence would not stand up in court, and he can't even go on Larry King and show everyone what exactly happened.

1 comment:

  1. as someone who has seen you in the courthouse dressed, i join with those who definitely do not want to see you naked either norm. just keep on writing with your clothes on. you are humorous and incisive.