While considered Halloween in some parts of the world, Oct 31, 2016 proved to be a horror show for two people aboard a train at JR Chiba Station in Chiba Prefecture. According to a witness on the train, a man entered the car and was said to be exposing himself by having the zipper of his pants undone and the contents plainly visible.
The witness reported the incident and an ensuring investigation surprisingly led right back to the Chiba Prefectural Police. In March of 2017, charges were filed against a 26-year-old police officer for public indecency. He fought the charges in court on the grounds that investigators had determined “there was a possibility that he might have forgotten to do up his pants while going to the bathroom or changing clothes.”
However, Chiba District Court felt that the sole witness was credible and found the officer guilty, handing down a fine of 300,000 yen. Even worse, he was immediately forced to take an indefinite leave of absence from law enforcement for his transgressions.
With his life now in shambles, the convicted flasher appealed to the Tokyo High Court which, nearly two years after the original incident, reviewed the case.
Considering that there were no other people on the train that saw his naked groin, the presiding judge ruled on July 26, 2018 that even though he did expose himself, there was insufficient evidence to suggest he did so intentionally.
With the ruling overturned, the officer was given his job back at the police station where his colleagues were sure to have to creative nicknames ready. He made a statement through his lawyer which read, “I want to raise my voice to stop the number of victims of false charges from increasing further.”
While his voice is clear, it is still uncertain if the court of public opinion is as merciful as the Tokyo High Court. Many had difficulty understanding how a mere open zipper could result in an indecent exposure charge.
“Was he not wearing underwear?”
“Did it pop out, or did the open fly just create a window?”
“Did he forget to put his junk inside his pants as well as doing up his zipper?”
“I’ve forgotten to do up my fly lots of times but I never exposed myself.”
“I wonder if the witness was just extra prudish and offended by the sight of underwear.”
“This happened to me once. My fly was down and when I went to sit down the whole package nearly popped out. Luckily, I could fix it before anyone noticed.”
“In my 40 years of life, I’ve had my zipper open many times, but nothing ever came out by accident.”
“I would understand if this was some grandpa, but I would hope a 26-year-old cop was a little more… aware.”
It seems people’s opinions on public indecency are largely formed by their own experience. As for whether this case was intentional or not, on the one hand it is a bit hard to imagine how one might expose themselves from a mere open zipper, but on the other hand it lacks the in-your-face certainty of exhibitionists such as the city official who took his trash out completely naked. So without all the details, it’s hard to completely believe either side of the matter.
Sources: Asahi Shimbun, Itai News
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