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Genitals did not 'accidentally' fall out of shorts in B.C. mall: judge

Guilty verdict delivered in Surrey indecent exposure case
Surrey Provincial Court.

A man who claimed his genitals accidentally slipped out of his shorts in a Surrey mall two years ago has been found guilty of indecent exposure.

In explaining the decision handed down against Thomas Charles Cooper on May 15, 2024, Judge Jennifer Lopes describes the evidence of the accused as "rehearsed," "fanciful" and "unreliable."

"I do not believe him and his evidence does not raise a reasonable doubt."

According to the judgment document, Cooper was charged with committing an indecent act in a public place after two women reported that a man had exposed himself to them in Guildford Shopping Centre on July 4, 2022.

Evidence considered over the course of a two-day hearing in Surrey Provincial Court included CCTV footage from the mall showing a man identified as Cooper looking at his crotch as he approaches a bench; pulling up the leg of his shorts before sitting down; and looking at his crotch area four more times while seated.

Witnesses testified observing a man seated on one of the mall's couches with his penis outside of his shorts. The man "looked right at her," one witness told the court. 

She and another witness called security after seeing the man a second time, about 30 minutes later, exposed while on a different couch.

On cross-examination, the witness "did not agree that the crotch of the shorts could have just shifted," the judgment states.

The man is described as wearing "short shorts" and carrying a bag.
"He moved the bag, opened his legs, and his penis and testicles fell out of his shorts," the second witness testified.

The identity of both witnesses is protected by a publication ban.

Cooper told the court he is 53, married and the owner/operator of a bowling alley. According to the judgment, he testified that on the day in question, he was at work in the morning and then planned to start an exercise regime.

He decided to go to the mall first to buy a DVD. Arriving wearing cargo shorts with underwear, before entering, he changed in his vehicle into new shorts he'd bought to exercise in. He described the new shorts as having a mesh liner like boxer shorts, but told the court he took the boxers off after they "bunched up."

He said when he couldn't find the DVD he wanted, he decided to buy lottery tickets and walk in the mall for exercise. He testified he stayed for around two hours, but "did not have a specific recollection of stopping to sit as he is seen doing in the video."

Cooper testified that he did not know his genitals were exposed, that he did not intentionally expose himself and that it's possible he made eye contact with the complainants.

On cross-examination, Cooper testified that he had changed to go exercise in the park, and that he had put a mask on before entering the mall because he was concerned about COVID. Asked why he'd go to the mall to exercise if he's concerned about COVID, Cooper stated there were not many people in the mall – a statement Lopes notes is contradicted by what can be seen on the CCTV footage.

Asked about his actions in the mall video, Cooper agreed he was looking down, but disputed that he adjusted his shorts. Shown the footage, however, he agreed that he hiked up his shorts when he sat down. Asked if he was looking at his crotch area, he "mumbled about looking at his phone," the judgment states.

In her analysis of Cooper's evidence as unreliable, Lopes states the 53-year-old "started to make up" what he thought he might have been doing while sitting at the mall.

She found Cooper changed his shorts "to facilitate the indecent exposure" and that it was "implausible" that two accidental exposures occurred.



Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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