Police arrest man downtown for indecent exposure

Man approached a woman sitting in a car, stood about five feet away while masturbating and looking at her

Police arrested a man who was masturbating a few feet away from a young woman sitting in a parked car inside a downtown parking lot Saturday night.

At about 9:59 p.m., police received a 9-1-1 call from the woman, in her twenties, who said she was parked in City Parking Lot "C" at 491 Ramona St. and a man who had approached her car was standing about five feet away from her passenger side window with his pants around his ankles while he masturbated, looking at her. She immediately called 9-1-1 from her cell phone and stayed inside her car until officers arrived within minutes and detained 48-year-old Eric Alexander Edwards of San Leandro, police said. By the time the officers arrived, Edwards had pulled up his pants.

The woman said she had initially noticed Edwards sitting on a bench in Cogswell Plaza. Her car was on the east end of the parking lot, facing the plaza.

Police said she placed Edwards under private person's arrest for indecent exposure. He was subsequently booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail for one count of misdemeanor indecent exposure.

Detectives are investigating to see if the suspect may be tied to any other indecent

exposure incidents in surrounding communities. Police said they do not believe that Edwards is connected to an indecent exposure incident that occurred nearby, in the 400 block of Ramona Street, on Jan. 11, and there have been no other similar crimes in Palo Alto of which police are aware.

Anyone with information about this suspect or this incident is asked to call the police's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.

— Palo Alto Weekly staff


Posted by Ex, a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2014 at 9:18 am

Charming downtown Palo Alto. Bring the family!

Posted by Barbara, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 3, 2014 at 10:08 am

[Post removed]

Posted by Raymond, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 3, 2014 at 10:35 am

Why is it that the downtown whackos always seem to be from somewhere else? What are they doing in Palo Alto? Do they come here because the begging is better?

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 3, 2014 at 10:46 am

[Post removed]

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 3, 2014 at 10:48 am

[Post removed]

Posted by Patricia, a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 3, 2014 at 11:03 am

All of the comments above are rude. Every town has their problems. Stopped talking about people begging. You are not in their shoes. Wackos! Are you perfect? A comment like that makes you look very small. And women have the right to sit in their car at any time. You don't know her! Who are you to judge? Was she getting off work? What if she had to take a bus? She would be out side. Keep judging her. This is about a man who was arrested for indecent ex posture. Remember, the man is innocent until proven guilty.

Posted by ChrisC, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 3, 2014 at 12:53 pm

ChrisC is a registered user.

Why do people always state that people are innocent until proven guilty? That's a legal thing, for courts and for reliable journalism. We ordinary folk get to say someone is guilty all we want.

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 4, 2014 at 10:47 am

JustMe is a registered user.


The concept of "innocent until proven guilty" is a fundamental of our justice system. It is different from Napoleonic code, which, I believe is used in Mexico. There, you are guilty until proven innocent, and that is far more open to abuse by authorities.

The basis for "innocent until proven guilty" is the belief that it is better to let many guilty go free than to punish one innocent. Is the system perfect? No, certainly not. Is it abused? Definitely. Can we wish for something better? Yes, but not at the expense of other fundamental rights.

Winston Churchill once said "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." (from a House of Commons speech on Nov. 11, 1947) I believe that the same could be said about our system of justice.

This is what we have, I don't know of any other system that is better, I suggest that we go with it.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 4, 2014 at 11:04 am

Hmmm is a registered user.

ChrisC is right - innocent until proven guilty is a legal concept that lives in the courtroom, not amongst the rest of us.

In this situation, since the incident was seen only by the one who made the citizen's arrest, it's likely that the case will actually get somewhere, at least initially, until a defense attorney gets involved. In other words, it's more likely that the DA's office will prefer charges, than not, since the witness/victim was serious enough to pursue legal action.

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 4, 2014 at 11:44 pm

JustMe is a registered user.

I am a little surprised at you Hmmmm, I would not have thought you would feel that way. Innocent until proven guilty is a basic tenant of our legal system, and I would not trade it for any other. I would also not support trial by media. As I said, I agree that the system is not perfect, but it is better than any of the alternatives.

So, what do you think the punishment should be for this crime? I will agree if it happened as reported, it was a crime. But what should a fitting punishment be? I doubt it was a felony. And please keep in mind that while someone may have been offended and/or frightened, no one was actually hurt. I, for one, am very thankful for that.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 4, 2014 at 11:57 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

I have no idea what the sentence should be - I'd have to check out the law(s) he broke. It's a misdemeanor, but he could be convicted of a sex offense bad enough that he has to register as a sex offender. I'm surprised that you take this sort of crime so lightly and have no real understanding of its ramifications or why it's taken so seriously. Of course, you lose your religion about property crime, so I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that a non-property crime doesn't matter as much to you. Maybe you'd enjoy researching this type of crime and why it's taken much more seriously than it used to be in the past.

Sure, he's guilty - I'm not on the jury, he won't be tried in the media, either. All of us not involved in the case are allowed to convict someone via our own opinions. Those opinions don't ultimately matter, unless we use them to shape the law. A basic tenet of our legal system doesn't apply to those not involved in a case. It's important to know those basic tenets, as well as how and when they're applied.

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 5, 2014 at 10:27 am

JustMe is a registered user.

Thank you fro your response Hmmmm. Perhaps I need to learn more about the ramifications of this type of crime. I will take your suggestion and do a little research on it, because it was you who suggested it. I have developed a respect for your posts, your attitudes, and just you in general over the years, and if you and I do not see eye-to-eye, then I could very well be missing something.

One problem I have with sexual offenders is that we can look at the behavior of people like this and project where that behavior can lead and want to stop hem before he does harm, but in America we cannot arrest and punish someone for what they might, and probably will do. We can only react to what they have done, and then their damage remains behind. I understand that it is a conundrum, and I wish I had a solution.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 5, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Justme, you said, "but in America we cannot arrest and punish someone for what they might, and probably will do. We can only react to what they have done, and then their damage remains behind." Yes, thankfully to the former!!

The thing is, data point to worsening behavior by the subject if these crimes go unstopped. That's why they can be convicted of a sex crime. That's not the same thing as punishing someone for something that they can do, it's changing the laws and sentencing for this type of sex offense, even though it's a misdemeanor. So the weinie wagger of yore is the sex offender of today.

Another way to think of it: the subject is *forcing* the victim to witness a sex act that they haven't agreed to, which is why that witness is also a victim. It sounded directed at this victim, as well. Also something to consider - the utter lack of impulse control that leads someone to behave this way in a very public place, using the surroundings and people in the area in order to commit the crime.

And I think I conflated you w/someone else who overly focuses on property crimes - my apologies!!!

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 5, 2014 at 2:07 pm

JustMe is a registered user.

Hmmmm, I went poking around, and this is was about all I could find about the effects of this crime on society:

Indecent exposure is the crime of displaying one's genitalia to one or more other people in public view, usually with the intent to shock the unsuspecting viewer. While the crime is viewed as harmless by some, studies have shown that those who commit the crime are at risk of committing more serious crimes and being a danger to others.

I found other mention of "devastating consequences" of the crime, but they refer to the effects of being arrested for indecent exposure. (Registered for life as a sex offender and all that implies.) I found no mention of any consequences on the victim at all. Can you help me find documentation on that please?

Interestingly, I saw lots of lawyers ready to defend cases of indecent exposure, I would not have thought that there was such a large market for those skills. It's kinda frightening.

If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

To post your comment, please click here to Log in

Remember me?
Forgot Password?
or register. This topic is only for those who have signed up to participate by providing their email address and establishing a screen name.

The dress code
By Jessica T | 24 comments | 2,036 views

September food and drink goings on
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 1,421 views

Two Days to Save This Dog?
By Cathy Kirkman | 15 comments | 1,270 views

It Depends... Disguising Real Characters in Fiction
By Nick Taylor | 0 comments | 420 views

Twenty-five years of wedded bliss
By Sally Torbey | 0 comments | 101 views