Naked Guy convicted -- but he is appealing
The Trial of the Morning raised the burning legal question: If you are standing naked in your own house and someone sees you from outside, are you indecently exposing yourself?
Judge Ian O'Flaherty ruled yes, in the context of the Oct. 19 case of Erick Williamson. But Williamson said the whole thing was outrageous, and he promptly filed an appeal to Fairfax Circuit Court.
The new information to emerge today is that the alleged exposure by Williamson, on Arley Drive in the Springfield area, apparently occurred over several hours, not just in a one-time flash to a woman and her 7-year-old son at 8:40 a.m.
The first episode happened at 6:35 a.m., according to Joyce Giuliani, a neighbor who was driving to work. She said as she drove past Williamson's rented house on Arley Drive, someone with long hair was standing in the front window, in the altogether. She couldn't identify Williamson specifically.
Though it didn't come out at trial today, Williamson's lawyer, Dickson Young, said Giuliani called the police about the naked man. Young said the police came and didn't find anything. He said that will be raised in the next trial.
So two hours later that morning, Yvette Dean came walking by with her son on a trail running past the side of Williamson's house, Dean testified. She said she heard a rattling noise standing in the doorway of his house, holding the screen door open.
"How was he dressed?" Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Marc Birnbaum asked.
"He wasn't," Dean answered.
Dean said she threw her coat over her son's head, they reached the sidewalk and headed toward nearby Hunt Valley Elementary School. But when she looked at the house again, Williamson had now moved to the front, and was once again in all his glory in a large window.
"Was he completely naked?" Birnbaum asked.
"I could see from the belt up," Dean said.
"Could you see below the belt?" Birnbaum followed up.
"Yes, but not to the floor. I was able to see the whole 'area,'" Dean said, making clear that the area was slightly below the belt.
On cross-examination, Young asked why she looked at the house again after her first, horrified response.
"To see if, 'Did I just see that?'" she said.
Finally, The Naked Guy testified.
He said he was in the process of moving out of the house, where he had lived with four other guys. They all left for work at 5:10 a.m., so he came downstairs in 5:15, and had the house to himself.
"Personal freedom," Williamson said, explaining his nakedness. "It's liberating." He said he was packing, making coffee, cleaning up, making breakfast, for several hours. There were curtains on the window, but they were open.
At no time, Williamson said, did he stand in the open doorway or the front window. He said he had no intent to expose himself, and "it didn't occur to me" that passersby might see him inside his lighted house.
In his closing argument, Young said that "nudity in one's home is not a crime. Under the circumstances of this case, a person who is careless, who should have drawn the blinds and didn't, that is not criminal behavior. If you're in a private place and take your clothes off, you have not committed a crime."
O'Flaherty responded, "What if you're in a private place and standing in front of a big plate glass window?"
Young: "That doesn't help in terms of making it intentional, and you have to do it in an obscene fashion."
O'Flaherty said Williamson was "intentionally naked, but is he intentionally exposing himself? I'm certain John Dillinger thought he was doing nothing wrong when he walked into banks and shot them up."
The judge then issued his ruling. "I believe from the evidence here," O'Flaherty said, "that the gentleman obviously was intentionally naked in the house. I find that the windows were completely uncovered. That fact that it went on for so long indicates an obscene display and I find the gentleman guilty."
Prosecutor Birnbaum then asked for jail time for Williamson. "When there is an exposure, no one deserves to see it, but especially not a 7-year-old child."
Young pointed out that Williamson has no criminal record. O'Flaherty sentenced him to 180 days in jail, all suspended for a period of one year. No fine, just court costs of approximately $72, which he didn't have to pay since he appealed.
Williamson said the publicity from his arrest cost him a job as a commercial diver.
"Naked in my house?" he said after the conviction. "I'm the victim. They're looking in my house." He noted that police showed up sometime after 10 a.m. while he was sleeping, awoke him in his bed and took him away.
Williamson has moved from Fairfax County, but will be back for the rematch on Feb. 1 in Circuit Court.
-- Tom Jackman
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