Government Reasonability Quiz

On Monday morning around 5:30 a.m. in Springfield, Virginia, Eric Williamson was making coffee (in the privacy of his own home) in the buff. Unbeknownst to Williamson, a woman and her 7 year old son could see him in all his glory as they took a shortcut through his front yard.

The woman, horrified that her and her son saw Williamson naked, called the police.

How does the police/District Attorney choose to deal with this situation? (Hint we are dealing with government officials here, throw common sense out the window)

A. Nothing. Police advise Williamson to make sure the windows are properly covered next time.
B. Nothing. The woman is advised not to take this shortcut again.
C. Both A and B.
D. The woman is charged with criminal trespass and violation of Williamson’s privacy. She could face up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted.
E. Williamson is charged with indecent exposure and could face up to 1 year in jail and a $2,000 fine if convicted.
F. Both D and E. Both parties broke the law as both parties violated the rights of the other.
G. Neither D nor E. Both parties broke the law, therefore the penalties offset and no charges will be filed. (Replay 3rd down?)

(See the correct answer below the fold.)

If you guessed E then you are correct.

Apparently no consideration was given the fact that the woman and her son were trespassing in Williamson’s yard or that she was looking into his home. Imagine if Williamson was a woman and it was a man cutting through the yard with his son. Would the woman be charged with indecent* exposure or would the man be charged for being a peeping Tom?

That will have to be another quiz for another day.

*It may depend on how “indecent” the woman looks naked : )

  • southernjames

    So much depends on who you are and who you know, doesn’t it.

    C. If the guy is a bigshot in town and/or buddies with the DA, or is a Judge, etc.

    D. See answer above, and if the guy is both pissed off at being seen, AND the woman is a nobody, and ex-wife or girlfriend or otherwise on the guy’s bad side.

    I like the “replay third down” option the best.

  • Aimee

    On answer E. Don’t forget he would also have to register as a sex offender.

  • Brad Warbiany

    I’m confused… I read Radley Balko’s site on a regular basis.

    Did you leave out the SWAT team busting down his door and shooting his dogs? I find it hard to believe THAT didn’t happen.

  • William C. Bradshaw

    Several recommendations would include Trudy Trespasser restricting her morning trips to public property and not shortcusts across private property (she should know the difference). The next time, deliver her son and then go back for a ebtter look at Eric. Start a neighborhood CrimeWatch program.

  • Stephen Littau

    Brad, I’m as confused as you. From all I’ve read, there is no indication that dynamic entry on the part of the police was ever attempted in this case. Even more surprising, none of the stories I’ve read mentioned anything about the police tazering the suspect.

    While I’m sure The Badge Worshippers and Law Enforcement Bootlickers of America’s board appreciates the way the police handled this case, I don’t think they will get a nomination for the Ramos-Compean Medal of Valor…the competition is just too competitive this year.

    Oh well, there’s always next year!

  • Stephen Littau

    James, I like the replay 3rd down option best as well. Williamson should close his curtains and this woman should not cut through his yard and look into his home.

  • Stephen Littau

    James, you also made good points about influence. “Equal justice under law” is a joke (unfortunately).

  • southernjames

    The “replay third down option” fits in nicely with the “Andy of Mayberry” school of law enforcement, too.

    Sheriff Andy has to rein in Barney who wants to accuse naked Festus of being a “pervert,” and gets all google-eyed – “What if Thelma Lou had seen this guy – we gotta nip this in the bud, Andy, nip it in the bud!!”….”Now, now Barn, let me handle this.”

    “Okay, now look Festus, y’all just can’t stand around in front of open windows or doors with your clothes off, alright? Now how hard is it to just shut the curtains?”

    “And Mabel. I’ve told you before, you can’t be cutting through people’s yards. Why just last week it was Miz Wilkenson’s flower bed you walked on; she’s still all riled up about her peonies…it’s just got to stop, hear?”

    “Okay Barn, now that we got that settled, let’s skedaddle and go have a piece of Aunt Bea’s Rhubarb pie she just baked.”

    Those old black and white half-hour sitcoms were the best.

  • Stephen Littau

    Yeah, Aunt Bea always had a pie ready didn’t she? lol

  • Doug Mataconis


    Radley Balko has posted an update on this story that raises some issues.

    For one thing, it appears that the incident occurred at 8:30am, not 5:30am.

    And, the police report apparently says that the area where this guy was standing was clearly visible from common areas of the property.

    Now, personally, I think this entire country is way too prudish when it comes to nudity but those facts do change things a bit

  • Aimee

    I believe though that as long as this guy wasn’t parading in front of his window or “showing his junk” on purpose, it shouldn’t matter what time it was. Maybe he thought with the sun you couldn’t see in that well from the street.

    Now, if he knew they were there, or was hoping anyone would see him that way, then there may be slight issue, but I still don’t think it is a jail worthy offense.

    I think if it had been a woman in the nude this wouldn’t have even been brought to the cops attention.

  • Brad Warbiany


    I think if it had been a woman in the nude this wouldn’t have even been brought to the cops attention.

    Well, that depends… If it were a man who saw the woman, you’re right that it wouldn’t have been brought to the cops’ attention. Pictures may have surfaced on the internet, but no law enforcement would be involved.

    If it were a woman who saw the naked woman, and the naked woman was more attractive than the viewer, I can certainly see the cops getting called. And that little tart had it comin’ to her too, didn’t she?