Jury clears 'Naked Guy' at home of indecent exposure charge

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Fairfax County jury needed fewer than 20 minutes Wednesday to decide that a man who was naked inside his Springfield home last fall, allegedly flashing passersby, was not guilty of indecent exposure.

The acquittal of Erick A. Williamson, 29, ended a long run of bad legal luck that started when he was rousted from his bed at gunpoint by Fairfax police Oct. 19 and questioned about whether he had been standing naked in the doorway and front window of his rental house on Arley Drive.

Shortly after that encounter, the officers arrested Williamson for felony indecent exposure because a 7-year-old boy had been walking with his mother when the woman allegedly spotted him naked in the doorway to his carport. A Fairfax magistrate reduced the charge to a misdemeanor, but Williamson then had a long walk home from jail, during which he received a phone call from his boss -- also his landlord -- telling him to move out. The police were the ones who called his boss, Williamson said.

Williamson, who claimed he'd merely been sitting naked in his house having coffee, was outraged by the arrest and called Fox 5 News. The story drew wide attention, and the saga of The Naked Guy began.

In December, Williamson went to trial and denied exposing himself. But because two women had reported the nudity two hours apart, Fairfax General District Court Judge Ian M. O'Flaherty convicted him, likening him to John Dillinger and saying that "the fact that it went on for so long indicates an obscene display."

Williamson appealed to Circuit Court, and attorney Dickson J. Young filed a series of motions trying to suppress the arrest, Williamson's statements to police, the identification of Williamson by the victim, and challenging the indecent exposure law. All those motions were denied.

So Wednesday came the misdemeanor jury trial, before a panel of five women and two men.

Fairfax Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Marc J. Birnbaum kept his case simple. He presented Joyce Giuliani, a neighbor who said she drove past Williamson's house at 6:40 a.m. and saw a naked man standing in the front window. Knowing that a school bus stop was nearby, and walkers to Hunt Valley Elementary School would be coming through, she called police.

When police got there, the house was dark and Giuliani wasn't there, so they left.

At 8:40 a.m., Yvette Dean said she was walking on a path past the side of the house with her 7-year-old son when she saw a naked man standing in the carport doorway.

Dean, a police officer's wife, volunteered that "I flipped him off," then moved to cover her son's head with her overcoat.

Young asked what was her purpose in raising her middle finger toward the nude man. "Anger," Dean said.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2010 The Washington Post Company