21-year-old man sentenced to one year of probation in indecent exposure case

By Abby Morris

Star Staff

   A 21-year-old man plead guilty in General Sessions Court on Friday to charges of indecent exposure and received one year of probation, was ordered to have no contact with the victims and ordered to attend counseling.
   David Kelly Tanner, 1298 Bluefield Ave., Apt. CD114, Elizabethton, was charged with three counts of the crime after an investigation by Elizabethton Police Department officers into incidents that had been reported by residents of Lynnridge Apartments.
   Tanner was sentenced as a 50 percent offender, according to Assistant District Attorney Mark Hill, who explained that sentencing him as such would cause Tanner to have to serve six months in jail if he violates his probation.
   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.
   According to EPD Det. Ed McGee, who investigated the incident, four witnesses spoke to him, all of whom lived in the CD building of Lynnridge Apartments.
   "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." McGee added that one witness reported that Tanner had committed these acts in front of her two-year-old son.
   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.
   Under Tennessee law, indecent exposure is a misdemeanor charge. "It takes two prior convictions to make it a felony in the state of Tennessee," said Hill. With Tanner's newest conviction, if he were to commit an act like this again, it would be a felony, Hill said.
   Tanner's wife, Melinda M. Tanner, 19, was also charged with indecent exposure and has an additional charge of coercion of witnesses. According to police reports, one of the victims in the indecent exposure incident reported to police that Mrs. Tanner had threatened her for calling the police.
   Mrs. Tanner had her initial appearance in court on the charges on Friday and is scheduled to appear in court again on March 11.
   Hill stated that he had been told that Mr. and Mrs. Tanner had been evicted from their apartment in Lynnridge because of the incident. "Just relocating him is not going to solve the problem," he said. "Statistics show that offenders like this tend to re-offend."