A man who confronted a woman and her young son at a public park by shoving his hand inside his unzipped pants and arching his pelvis toward her while shouting didn’t commit a crime, an Oregon appeals courts has ruled.

Share story

A man who confronted a woman and her young son at a public park by shoving his hand inside his unzipped pants and arching his pelvis toward her while shouting didn’t commit a crime, an Oregon appeals courts has ruled.

The Oregon Court of Appeals recently ruled that 44-year-old Thomas Bryan Wade’s behavior was constitutionally protected free speech, the Oregonian reported.

The ruling reverses the second-degree disorderly conduct conviction of the homeless man for the May 2013 incident in a Gresham park involving a woman and her 7-year-old son.

The woman reported Wade was within 30 feet of her and she turned away, expecting him to expose himself. Lawyers say a public-indecency charge against Wade was dismissed at trial because the woman didn’t see Wade expose himself.

A district court judge determined a “reasonable person” would think a “violent sexual attack is likely to occur” from Wade’s actions.

But the three-judge appeals court said Wade didn’t take any steps toward the woman or her son, and hadn’t done enough to demonstrate he was about to attack. That, the appeals court said, eliminated second-degree disorderly conduct, which is defined as engaging as “fighting or violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior” to cause “public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm.”

Wade’s defense attorney, Shannon Mortimer, said his client has struggled with mental-health problems. He said Wade needed help, not a criminal conviction.

“There are a lot of Thomas Bryan Wades out there,” Mortimer said. “There’s not a lot of resources available to handle them somewhere else than the criminal-justice system. The courts are where these people get dropped off, and judges and lawyers have to figure out what to do with them.”