20-year-old charged with indecent exposure

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   A 20-year-old man was arrested Friday by Elizabethton Police Department officers and charged with indecent exposure following an investigation into incidents that had been reported by residents of Lynnridge Apartments.
   David Kelly Tanner, 1298 Bluefield Ave., Apt. CD114, was charged with three counts of the crime and charges are pending against his wife, Melinda M. Tanner, whom witnesses say was involved in one of the incidents.
   Police were first called to the apartments on Jan. 21 and were met by several residents who wished to file complaints that their neighbor, Tanner, had been intentionally exposing himself when they would pass by his apartment.
   According to reports, witnesses stated that Tanner had been standing nude in front of a large window and was inappropriately touching himself while women and children were walking by.
   "We have four witnesses; all of them live at Lynnridge Apartments in the CD building," said Det. Ed McGee, who took part in the investigation. "One of the witnesses said that he did this in front of her and her two-year-old son."
   McGee stated that incidents such as this one have occurred before.
   "According to one of the witnesses that we talked to, it was not a one time thing; he had done this before," he said. "In one of the statements, one of the witnesses states that he stands there and laughs at them."
   In another of the incidents reported by witnesses, Tanner was seen standing nude in front of the window holding his infant son. Because of that, McGee said, the Department of Children's Services was contacted.
   "You've got to cover all of your bases," he said. "When there is a child involved, you want to make sure the child is safe."
   Even though Tanner was standing in his own apartment, he is being charged with indecent exposure because he was in plain sight of the public.
   "What you do in the privacy of your own home is one thing, but when you come out on the balcony or put the doors open like he did in plain view of the public, that's what makes it against the law," McGee said.
   The Tennessee Code Annotated defines indecent exposure as when someone "knowingly or intentionally" engages in sexual intercourse, appears nude, fondles either their own genitals or the genitals of another person, or engages in other sexual acts in a public place", according to McGee. The Tennessee Code defines a public place as "any location frequented by the public or where the public is present or likely to be present or where a person may reasonably be expected to be observed by the public."
   McGee stated that because the other residents had to walk past Tanner's apartment to reach their residences and because the balcony and windows are plainly visible by passersby and his actions seemed intentional, Tanner's actions fall under indecent exposure.
   Tanner appeared in General Sessions Court on Monday, and the judge appointed a public defender the case and set a corporate bond of $3,000. Tanner has been released on bond and is scheduled to reappear in court Feb. 14.
   "The judge has ordered his child to be examined," McGee said. "We just want to make sure everything is OK there." The examination will be conducted by doctors from the Department of Children's Services and is scheduled to take place this week.
   Tanner was found guilty in April of 2002 on a similar charge. In that case, Tanner was accused of committing indecent exposure on Feb. 20 of that year in the parking lot of Elizabethton High School. According to reports, a student told the principal that a man in the parking lot had exposed himself to her that morning when she parked her car. She gave the principal a description of the vehicle the man was driving.
   Two days later, police saw the described vehicle in the parking lot. When they questioned the occupant, Tanner confessed to the incident, according to reports.
   The judge in that case fined Tanner $500 and court costs and issued an order that he was not to be in the area of any school in the City of Elizabethton or Carter County.