A San Francisco man accused of exposing himself to a woman while riding BART was acquitted of all charges after a jury concluded that there was no real evidence he was masturbating en route to San Francisco.
The jury deliberated for less than an hour on Tuesday afternoon before deciding Carlos Law, 39, was not guilty of indecent exposure. Had he been convicted, he would have been force to register as a sex offender, according to his attorney, Deputy Public Defender JP Visaya.
Here's what happened:
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On June 16, about 11:30 p.m., a 26-year-old woman was asleep on an empty San Francisco-bound BART train when she woke up to a man waving a phone at her from his seat across the aisle. The woman had headphones on at the time, so she couldn't make out what he was saying, but thought he was trying to sell her a phone.
She told him to leave her alone. Several minutes later, she looked over and said she saw him slumped in his seat against the window, giggling and masturbating.
The woman stood up and hurled a profanity or two his way; the man quickly zipped up and headed to the next car.
The victim called the train operator from the intercom, who alerted the cops; police were waiting for the train to arrive at the Powell Street station, according to the Public Defender's Office. The woman identified Law, who was among 10 passengers in the adjacent car, as the giggling masturbator. BART police cited him for indecent exposure.
Then came the trial, which wrapped up in one day. Both Law and the victim took the stand, giving different stories; she said he was the one touching himself on the train while he denied exposing himself to the woman. In fact, he said he had never seen her before.
Law's attorney's pointed out that BART police didn't really investigate the matter, no witnesses were interviewed, nor was there a surveillance camera in the BART train to confirm her story.
Visaya busted out BART's policy manual, which clearly states that officers are supposed to look for and find "material evidence and facts after a crime."
"Solid and thorough police work leaves no room for doubt," Visaya said. "That was not what we had here."
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