Naked Coffee Guy Truth Exposed
Yesterday, Radley Balko passed on the story of Eric Williamson, the Springfield, Virginia man who has been charged with indecent exposure for being naked in his own house. According to Williamson’s version of events, he was making coffee at 5:30 in the morning when a woman and her 7-year-old cut across his yard and spied him through a window and called the cops.
Radley joked, “Fairfax police say Williamson wanted to be seen naked. Which I guess means Williamson’s front yard is a pretty popular spot at 5:30 in the morning.”
Via AllahPundit, here’s the Fox News report, with Williamson expressing his surprise and outrage over the arrest:
Well, now it seems that the facts are in dispute.
The woman told police it was 8:40 a.m. when she was walking her son to school along a path between houses. She said they first spotted Williamson naked in an open door in the car port of his home.
She also told police that Williamson then walked across the house to a large window, facing the way she was walking.
If it’s 8:40 in the morning — it’s light out in these parts by 7 — and he’s in front of an open door, his claim to being in the privacy of his own home minding his business is seriously damaged. And if he saw the mother and boy and then ran in front of a large window to further expose himself to them, he’s almost certainly committed a crime.
Radley, who wrote a new post updating the story, disagrees:
Given that she was apparently on his property (that part of the story hasn’t yet been disputed), and he was in his home the entire time, I’m not sure his exact position in his own home matters, unless he was otherwise in plain view of someone using the public sidewalk. Even then, it seems more like tacky behavior than behavior that should be criminal. And you’d think the guy would get a warning before you arrest him for nudity in his own house.
He admits this is all rather peculiar:
The guy does seem strange. A roommate says he was acting oddly, walking around all morning wearing nothing but a construction hat. But again, strange behavior needn’t be a crime punishable by a year in jail (if the roommate had reported unwanted nudity, that might be a different matter). Seems like a sensible policy would be that once you walk into someone’s yard and look inside their home, you can’t claim to be victimized by what you might see.
If you’re in your own house but standing naked in an open door visible to the public — the path between these houses is apparently a common walkway used by neighborhood kids going to school — your expectation of privacy is seriously diminished. Ditto standing naked in front of an uncovered window at 8:40 in the morning.
Williamson wasn’t, say, emerging naked from bed and walking down to start the coffee in the interior of his home. If someone happened to catch a shadowy glimpse under such circumstances, I’d completely agree with Radley’s view of the situation. For that matter, if he was standing naked in his carport doorway at 5:30 in the morning to smoke a cigarette and some earlybird neighbors walked by, the most I’d expect would be for police to issue him a friendly warning. But, if the accuser’s version of events is accurate — and I’m inclined to believe it was given the reaction of the roommates — then Williamson was willfully committing indecent exposure to small children. That’s not, in my judgment, worth a year in jail on first offense. But it’s not innocent behavior, either.
As an aside, I’m rather amused at the caption on the WTOP photo. What has his growing up in Hawaii to do with anything? Do they have different customs there on nudity? Or is he actually a Kenyan citizen whose citizenship is in question? If so, perhaps he’ll be deported.