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'Implausible': B.C. judge rejects man's claim that indecent exposure was accidental

A sign for Guildford Town Centre in Surrey, B.C., is seen in this 2020 photo. (Shutterstock) A sign for Guildford Town Centre in Surrey, B.C., is seen in this 2020 photo. (Shutterstock)

A judge has rejected a B.C. man's claim that his genitals "accidentally" fell out of his shorts – twice – at a Surrey mall, finding him guilty of indecent exposure.

Thomas Charles Cooper, 53, was convicted Wednesday after a two-day trial by judge alone. The charge stemmed from an incident on July 4, 2022, at Guildford Town Centre.

"On that day, two women reported that they saw Mr. Cooper’s penis outside his shorts and called mall security. Mr. Cooper states that if his penis was out of his shorts, it was an accident," Judge Jennifer Lopes wrote in her decision.

In order to find Cooper guilty, Crown had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused exposed himself intentionally – which the judge found was the case after weighing the evidence of the victims, security video from the shopping centre and Cooper's testimony.

The first victim, a female employee referred to by the initials J.F. said she saw a man sitting on a couch outside of a store with his genitals outside of his shorts, adding that the man "looked right at her," the decision says.

"She was in disbelief about what she had seen and went to get a co-worker," Lopes wrote.

Thirty minutes later, J.F. and her coworker, Ms. C., saw the same man on a different couch where he had a bag on his lap.

"He moved the bag, opened his legs, and his penis and testicles fell out of his shorts," the decision continued.

"Ms. C. described how she was shocked and uncomfortable after seeing this."

The judge found both women to be credible and reliable witnesses.

The security video did not capture the indecent exposure itself, but did show some of what unfolded.

"As (Cooper) approaches the bench he looks down at his crotch area. He pulls up the leg of his shorts before sitting down. While he is seated he looks at his crotch area four separate times. When he stands up he looks down again," the decision says.

Cooper, in his testimony, said he had no reason not to believe the two women and did not think they had lied to the court.

"He testified that he did not know his genitals were exposed. He testified that he did not intentionally expose his genitals," the decision said.

The judge noted that Cooper's testimony seemed "rehearsed" and that his "demeanour changed" when he was under cross-examination.

She found a number of inconsistencies in his evidence and determined he was neither a credible nor reliable witness.

"I do not believe Mr. Cooper and his evidence does not raise a reasonable doubt," Flores wrote.

"I find it implausible that Mr. Cooper returned to the same area and a second accidental exposure occurred. On the totality of the evidence that I do accept, it is not a reasonable inference that I can draw that Mr. Cooper was unaware of the exposure of his genitals as they accidentally fell out not once, but twice," the judgment also said.

One of the issues that arose was that Cooper testified to changing out of his cargo shorts and underwear in his car in the parking lot, saying he put on a second pair of shorts with which he did not wear underwear because they had a "mesh liner" and he was planning on exercising.

However, he also admitted that he never exercised.

"His evidence regarding anticipatorily changing from shorts and underwear into other shorts with no underwear in the parking lot of the mall for a walk in the park he did not do, sounded fanciful," the judge wrote.

"I find that Mr. Cooper changed shorts in the mall parking lot to facilitate the indecent exposure. There is no other reasonable inference in light of the totality of the evidence."

A date for Cooper's sentencing has not been set but a case conference is scheduled for May 22. Top Stories

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