City drops case against man arrested for alleged lewd act near school

SEATTLE -- No one is behind bars for the series of indecent exposure incidents near schools that have troubled West Seattle for the past two months.

Last week, a man was arrested for performing a lewd act near Chief Sealth High School, but a misdemeanor charge was dropped Friday.

The dismissal appeared to boil down to a legal technicality.  The city of Seattle cannot charge anyone with misdemeanor indecent exposure, so it had to drop the case against the West Seattle man.

Police say a 17-year-old girl spotted the man fondling himself inappropriately and she told school officials, who called police. He was arrested later that day.

Starting Friday, Nov. 1, the city attorney will be able to prosecute misdemeanor indecent exposure cases, along with 30 other different offenses that are currently not in the city’s criminal code.  But the changes are coming too late to affect last week’s arrest.

“I understand the technicalities. However, with someone who has this kind of problem, it’s like someone on drugs or something. He could be compelled to do the same thing somewhere else,” said parent Sean O’Brien.

In the past two months, there have been seven reports of indecent exposure or lewd acts just in West Seattle. In most of the cases, a man sitting in a car exposed himself to young kids.

“That worries me, because I am thinking while I am at work working with other children, that some creep could be preying on my child,” said parent Jasmine Johnson.

Johnson was hoping the latest development was the big break this community desperately needed. The last thing she wanted to hear was that the only man arrested so far had a charge dropped agianst him and is free again.

“It’s troubling to know that he is out," Johnson said.

The King County Prosecutor’s Office said they received the case Tuesday and they are in the process of reviewing it.