'Intentionally naked' Fairfax County man appealing his conviction
The Fairfax County man who was arrested for being naked -- in his home -- was found guilty Friday of indecent exposure, but the judge did not fine him or sentence him to jail.
Erick Williamson, 29, continued to believe that he had done nothing wrong and that he did not purposely expose himself to two women and a 7-year-old boy who walked past his house the morning of Oct. 19. He immediately appealed his conviction.
A seven-person jury in misdemeanor appeals court will rule on the propriety of Williamson's domestic nudity in February.
"That's outrageous," he said after the verdict. "It's unbelievable." He said publicity from the arrest had cost him a job as a commercial diver. "I'm the victim," he said.
Testimony in the hour-long trial before Fairfax General District Court Judge Ian M. O'Flaherty revealed that two separate incidents of alleged exposure had occurred over a two-hour period. Williamson denied standing naked in his doorway or front window and said he had no intent to expose himself to anyone. But 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."
The incidents occurred at Williamson's rented townhouse on Arley Drive in the Springfield area. In the first, neighbor Joyce Giuliani testified that she heard moaning coming from Williamson's house about 6:15 a.m., then singing at 6:35. On her way to work a few minutes later, she said, she drove past the townhouse, glanced at it and saw a man standing in the front window "unclothed." She could not identify Williamson specifically.
Giuliani then called police, according to Dickson J. Young, Williamson's attorney. He said police responded and saw nothing. Young said he would explore that angle in the Circuit Court trial.
Yvette Dean testified that about two hours later, at 8:40 a.m., she and her son were walking single file on a footpath near the side of Williamson's home. Dean said she heard "a rattling sound that distracted me." She looked over and saw Williamson standing in a doorway, holding open the screen door with one hand, and made eye contact with him.
"How was he dressed?" Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Marc Birnbaum asked.
"He wasn't," Dean replied.
She said her son was in front of her, so she darted up to him and put a coat over him so he couldn't see. They continued walking toward the sidewalk on Arley Drive on their way to Hunt Valley Elementary School.
"I looked again," Dean said. Williamson had moved to a window at the front of the house, still offering a fully unobstructed view of himself, she said.
Williamson testified that his four roommates, also divers, had left the house at 5:10 a.m. He said he had been up all night packing, preparing to move out of the townhouse. Because his roommates were gone and he had the place to himself, he said, he walked down to the kitchen sans garments.
"Personal freedom," Williamson said, explaining his nudity. "It's very liberating."
He said he made coffee, did some cleaning, made breakfast, packed some more. He said he never stood in front of either the open doorway or the front window, was merely going about his morning business and didn't intend to expose himself. "It didn't cross my mind" that pedestrians might see him, he said. There were curtains on the windows, he said, but they were open.
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?"
After making his comment that John Dillinger also thought he was doing no wrong, for which Young had no rejoinder, the judge 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. The 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. Young pointed out that Williamson has no criminal record.
O'Flaherty sentenced him to 180 days in jail, all suspended for one year. He imposed no fine, just court costs of about $72, which Williamson didn't have to pay because he appealed.