Thirty two year old Gregory Couture was recently arraigned in the Hingham District Court for one count of Open and Gross Lewdness. The Brockton Enterprise reports that last fall Couture exposed himself to a woman walking in Luddham's Ford Park. The victim was unable to identify him at that time. Just a few weeks ago another woman in the same area saw Couture following her. This same woman saw him hiding behind trees another time in the park. This time the woman took a picture of Couture's car and showed it to the police. Couture was questioned by the police and supposedly admitted to exposing himself in the fall and to having done so to other women in the past. Couture posted five hundred dollars cash bail. He has been banned from the park.
Open and Gross Lewdness in Massachusetts is a felony. It is governed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 272 Section 16. The law states verbatim that "[a] man or woman, married or unmarried, who is guilty of open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than three years or in jail for not more than two years or by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars". While this offense is closely similar to the crime of Indecent Exposure it is considered more serious. Behavior conducted in private will not suffice to convict for this offense. The element of "open" means exactly that. The conduct must be performed with the intention to cause alarm or shock. Indecent Exposure in front of children will satisfy the elements of the offense but the same conduct in front of adults might not. A single act of Open and Gross Lewdness cannot result in more than one conviction even if there are multiple victims. Exposing oneself and masturbating in a public place are typical examples of acts that result in these charges being brought. "Mooning" adults should not result in a conviction and charges alleging such conduct should be dismissed upon motion.
This conduct in lay terms in known as exhibitionism. It is characterized as the act of showing genitals to a stranger without the intention of engaging in sexual activity with that person. Exhibitionists often masturbate during this exposure. Some do so with the intent to shock the victim. Others do this in hopes of arousing their target. The causes of this behavior vary and are mostly inconclusive. The perpetrators are almost always male. As a Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer I have represented many people accused of crimes involving exhibitionism. They defendants in my experience are always men. Experts will tell you that this behavior can be controlled with therapy and sometimes drugs. We have engaged psychologists to evaluate our clients charged with having committed crimes involving this type of behavior. Their reports and recommendations have helped us resolve these cases favorably on countless occasions.
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