A state legislator who’s also an assistant county attorney is sponsoring a bill that would make it easier to prosecute “indecent exposure” cases. Representative Kevin McCarthy, a Democrat from Des Moines who is an assistant Polk County Attorney, says “current law has a loophole,” and he describes the bill as both “prosecutor-friendly” and “defendant-friendly.”
McCarthy says under current Iowa law, prosecutors have to prove the person who sees the flash of exposed flesh was the person the flasher had intended to expose themselves to — for the flasher’s own “sexual gratification.”
McCarthy has an example of how that can trip up the case: “An individual goes into a clothing store, hides behind a clothing rack, exposes themself and they’re doing it to the clerk who can’t see the exposure. A nine-year-old boy walks around, sees the gentleman and (the flasher) gets arrested. That would have to be dropped…because the person who came across that indecent exposure was not the intended victim, you see,” McCarthy says.
McCarthy says his bill would help in those situations. It creates a reduced charge when an “innocent bystander” comes across someone who is exposing themselves, but the flasher didn’t intend for the “bystander” to see. McCarthy says those cases would be easy to prosecute, and defendants wouldn’t be “overcharged” in such cases and get themselves placed on the sex offender registry. People on the registry are barred from living within two-thousand feet of a school or daycare.
McCarthy’s bill is identical to an ordinance in the City of Des Moines which he says allows prosecutors like him to more easily get indecent exposure convictions on incidents that happen within the city limits.