Court rules homeless man’s obscene actions in park are free speech

Court rules homeless man’s obscene actions in park are free speech

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 (http://bit.ly/1UshrT0) 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 that 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 that 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 make a physical attack.

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