Creeper’ convicted of exposing himself to teen
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | November 28,2012
BENNINGTON — A North Bennington man was convicted of a felony count of lewd and lascivious conduct on Tuesday for exposing himself to a 15-year-old girl in a laundromat in July 2011.
Thomas P. King, 48, of North Bennington, was found guilty by a jury whose members deliberated for about three hours before returning a verdict. King was released pending a sentencing which is expected to take place early next year.
King was charged after two young women contacted police on July 16. The 15-year-old girl said she was in the laundromat when she noticed King looking at her. She said it made her uncomfortable and she tried to look away.
The girl posted a message on a social networking site at the time of the incident which said she saw a “creeper” looking at her. The posting was part of the evidence considered by the jury.
However, she soon noticed that he had exposed himself to her and she believed he was trying to catch her attention so she would look at him. The girl instead told her friend what was happening and the two of them approached one of the laundromat’s employees.
King left the laundromat after being asked to go by the employee but returned while Officer Lawrence Cole, of the Bennington Police Department, was interviewing the young women.
Cole said he noted that the 15-year-old began shaking after she saw King.
Cole testified on Tuesday that King denied exposing himself to the girl although he said he may have touched himself in a nonsexual way, due to the hot weather, which he said the girl might have seen and mistaken for some other conduct.
Bennington County Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Christina Rainville told the jury that the girl was a good witness who planned to go to college to study veterinary medicine.
“Is that the kind of kid who would come here, take an oath to testify to the truth, testify under penalty of perjury, and lie? No. ... She presents like an honest kid. She presents like a good kid,” she said.
Rainville also pointed out that King was sitting in a secluded part of the laundromat which she said indicated that he had planned to expose himself and hoped to find a secluded part of the building from which to do it in a “very, very discrete” method.
King has a history of being charged with exposing himself.
Frederick Bragdon, who represented King on Tuesday, said his client “never asked for this.”
“If the facts were clear, we wouldn’t be here. ... It totally rests in (the jury’s) hands, after you hear the law to decide whether there is sufficient evidence here, the state has met its burden not only bringing evidence forward but brought sufficient evidence that’s beyond reasonable doubt,” he said.
Bragdon said King only appeared to be looking at the girl because she was sitting between King and a window.
The message the girl posted was also questioned by Bragdon because it contained two symbols, known as emoticons, which indicate a “smiley” face.
“This is the person who’s scared for their life?” Bragdon asked.
Bragdon asked the jury to consider some parts of the state’s case which he questioned and called “maybes.”
“Eventually, you get well too many maybes here and that’s what reasonable doubt is all about,” he said.
King did not testify and the defense did not present any testimony.