Woman pleads guilty to indecent exposure

By Abby Morris
Star Staff

   A 20-year-old woman pled guilty to a charge of indecent exposure in General Sessions Court on Friday just under two months after her husband pled guilty to indecent exposure charges stemming from the same incident.
   Melinda Tanner, 103 Franklin Place Drive, Apt. 3, received a fine of $50 after entering her guilty plea. According to Assistant District Attorney Mark Hill, this was Tanner's first offense of indecent exposure, which is a class B misdemeanor. "With the first offense it's a fine only," Hill said.
   Tanner had also been charged with two counts of coercion of witnesses following allegations that she had harassed one of the witnesses who had reported the indecent exposure to law enforcement officers. "We had to dismiss that because it wasn't a strong case," Hill said.
   Tanner's husband, David K. Tanner, 21, pled guilty to a charge of indecent exposure on Feb. 14 of this year, the second time he has been convicted of indecent exposure. Tanner was found guilty in April of 2002 on a similar charge. In that case, David 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. Police later identified David Tanner as the subject the girl had seen.
   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.
   In the incident that Melinda Tanner pled guilty to on Friday and that her husband pled guilty to in February, witnesses reported that David Tanner had been standing nude in front of a large window and was inappropriately touching himself while women and children were walking by. Melinda Tanner was reported to have been involved in one of these incidents.
   Elizabethton Police Department Det. Ed McGee, who investigated the case in January, said witnesses reported 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."
   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 the Tanners' apartment to reach their residences and because the balcony and windows are plainly visible by passersby and their actions seemed intentional, their actions fall under indecent exposure.