“Did the defendant ejaculate?”
“He said he didn’t. He said it was his first time masturbating in public, and he became nervous and was unable to ejaculate.”
Cory Rupp, 20, of Ukiah, was on trial for lewd and lascivious acts in public, specifically whacking off in broad daylight in the driveway of Julia Carrera's home in Ukiah.
(Mendo pot people will remember Ms. Carrera as the County’s third-party marijuana inspector under Mendo’s now-defunct marijuana permit program.)
Ms. Carrera’s friend, Alyra Slocum, a well-known Ukiah singer-songwriter, had arrived at Ms. Carrera's home, noting that Mr. Whackoffski was, uh, pleasuring himself virtually in Ms. Carrera's front yard. The two women locked themselves in the house where they quickly decided to call the police to report a young man pacing up and down the sidewalk, whacking away, perhaps having been further aroused, nay transported, by the arrival of the comely Ms. Slocum.
“He must have had a lot of practice, to be able to do it while walking down the street,” Ms. Carrera would testify. “Alyra arrived and I said, ‘Get in here,’ and I pulled her into the house and locked the door.”
She had a point. Mobile masturbation would seem to be fairly rare. If the kid had also been chewing gum we'd have a real prodigy on our hands. [sic]
What did the pud-pulling pedestrian have to say in his defense: “I was off my meds.”
Charles Oshinuga from the Office of the Public Defender was assigned to Rupp’s case, and since he is the newest lawyer in the Public Defender's stable, it seems reasonable to assume that none of the other public defenders were vying to defend the libidinous lad.
Oshinuga is also a very good basketball player, having won a 3-on-3 championship for UC Davis with two other law students in a statewide tournament at UCLA in 2011. Oshinuga's boss, Linda Thompson, may have figured, “This case cries out for an athletic defense.”
The matter was heard as a bench trial (in front of a judge), as opposed to a jury trial. Oshinuga had only legalities to worry about, not the added burden of weeding out female jurors genetically predisposed to castration for male sex crimes.
The young attorney began his cross-examination of Ms. Carrera with a merry, “Good morning, Ms. Carrera! How ya doin’ today?”
“I’m creeped-out,” the vic bluntly replied.
Oshinuga cut to the chase.
“You don’t remember the specific time when you first saw Mr. Rupp in your driveway, isn’t that correct …what you told the officer?”
“It was daytime,” Ms. Carrera snapped, obviously still offended at the memory of unrestrained male sexuality in her driveway.
“Well,” Oshinuga persisted, “was it before noon, afternoon — what?”
“Before,” Carrera said.
“And you asked my client to leave?”
“Wull, yeah…” with an implied, “Duh. You don't think I invited him in for coffee, do you?”
“Then you remained inside?”
“Of course I stayed inside — what do you think I was gonna do?”
Oshinuga ignored the “Well, duh” implications of Ms. Carrera's replies. “So you were looking out the window?”
“And he was still in the driveway?”
“You told the officer that he was still in the driveway. Did you see his penis?”
“Not all of it — he had it covered with his hand, going up and down.”
“And he was looking around aimlessly…?”
“No! I didn’t say ‘aimlessly’! He was looking at my house! He was across the street by then, and he was looking at my house — and jacking off!”
“Did my client, at any time, say anything?”
“He was jacking off in front of my house! Why would I care anything about what he had to say?”
“So you don’t recall my client saying anything. Did he make any gestures?”
“Gestures? Gestures? Why are you asking me about gestures? I don’t care about gestures!”
“So he didn’t make any gestures?”
“Gestures — Did he make any gestures?”
“What are you trying to do? He was jacking off”—
Just then the court reporter threw up her hands in frustration and said, “Stop! You are both talking over each other and I can’t keep up. I don’t even know where we are, now.”
Judge John Behnke admonished both lawyer and witness to slow down. (No one said to the court reporter, “I believe the last statement by the witness was ‘jacking off’.”)
Ms. Carrera had been flaring her nostrils and walling her eyes like an elk cornered by wolf. She was incredulous. It hadn't even been lunch time and she'd had a major perv in her driveway waving his weenie and whinnying like a horse and now she's in court and this Oshinuga guy is asking every dumb question imaginable.
On his part, Oshinuga — wisely, I think — hadn’t come anywhere near the witness stand, choosing instead to remain behind the defense table. But it was crucial that he ask these questions because the second, most damning element of the charge was whether or not his client was attempting to draw attention to himself — or had simply, all of an instant, become so overwhelmed with the splendors of Ukiah's fall fecundity that he just had to contribute his seed to next year's bounty.
In a world of misunderstanding there are always other possibilities.
Oshinuga resumed his interrogation of an increasingly hostile witness.
“So it is true that my client never spoke to you or made any gestures?”
“When you say ‘gestures’ I tend to think of, you know, flipping someone off, that kind of thing… So I’m not sure I know what you mean.”
“Fair enough. But he wasn’t pointing to himself, or anything like that was he?”
“How could he? He was too busy jacking off!”
“Is it true he never said anything?”
“Yeah, that’s true.”
“Is there a lawn?”
Again, Ms. Carrera reacted as though Oshinuga was deliberately trying her patience.
“What has that got to do with some jerk jacking off in my driveway? It’s the neighbor’s lawn, anyway. Why?”
“Is there a fence?”
“Huh? Are you serious? A fence? Yeah, sure. There’s a little ornamental picket fence, so what?”
“And a tree?”
Ms. Carrera was terminally exasperated.
“Okay, yeah, there’s a tree, and you know what? It wouldn’t have surprised me at this point if ‘your client’ had climbed the tree and hung from a branch by his tail, jacking off the whole time!”
“Was the tree between my client and the street?”
“Phew,” the witness exhaled, her lower lip jutting so that a few wisps of hair on her forehead wafted momentarily aloft. “Lemme think. Was he hiding behind the tree? I really don’t think so. He was across the street jacking off and looking at my house.”
“How far was that?”
“I dunno, maybe 30 feet…”
“Then how do you know he was looking at your house?”
“He was looking at my house!”
“You could see his eyes at that distance?”
“Did he make eye contact with you?”
“He made eye contact with me!”
“Then what did he do?”
“He wiped his hand on his shirt and walked on down the street towards the golf course.”
“Nothing further. Thank you, Ms. Carrera.”
The DA’s sex crimes prosecutor is Heidi Larson. She has a pretty heavy docket, an unrelievedly sordid caseload it is, too, although you’d never know it because most people, even reporters, can’t sit through endless child abuse and rape cases without going vigilante. Ms. Larson prosecutes the worst creeps imaginable. She called the next witness, Alyra Slocum.
The fact that both the victim-witnesses were attractive women will do little to exonerate the wandering onanist, Corey Rupp. The fact that Ms. Slocum’s arrived on the scene when Mr. Rupp already had his passions in hand, so to speak, could, I suppose, in some wild stretch of indulgent speculation, be construed as understandable, because of her (Ms. Slocum’s) understated and yet undeniable charm. Where Ms. Carerra had, uh, aroused Mr. Rupp's passions, the sight of Ms. Slocum pulling into Carerra's driveway propelled Rupp into full-on dropped-pants ecstasy.
Ms. Larson doesn’t blush at the facts of life, no matter how bizarre. The prosecutor repeated the facts for the new witness, Ms. Slocum.
“On or about August 8th, sometime around 11 o’clock in the morning, you arrived at 801 Maple Avenue in your silver Jeep Liberty. Your friend, Ms. Carrera, rushed you inside, saying something to the effect that there was someone creepy out there, and you told the officers that you later saw him standing by your car… We know all this, but can you tell me what you saw the defendant doing?”
Ms. Slocum went red as the proverbial beet. She tried to speak, but her voice squeaked and cracked. She tried again. This time we heard a few strained words, to the effect: “I saw him standing by my car. He was touching himself. He wore a black hoody and dark pants, but, wull, his pants were down and his hands were on his private parts.”
Ms. Larson demanded full candor.
“Touching himself,” she recited contemptuously. “His hands on his private parts…[ha!]” The prosecutor paced a few steps in front of the witness, then stopped and rocked on her heels, her hands clasped behind her back. “Do you mean his penis?”
“Yes,” Slocum whispered, her eyes dropping demurely, her ears glowing dangerously near the temperature of combustion. Maidenly modesty in a time of universal decadence! It was, in a way, kinda life-affirming in a porn-drenched time.
“So you actually saw his penis?”
“Umhum,” the witness whimpered.
“Is that a ‘yes’?”
Ms. Slocum looked like she might bolt from the room.
“I couldn’t particularly see anything,” she stammered hurriedly. “And, honestly, I wasn’t trying to look at it. But it was just like really blatant.”
“How did you feel?”
“Ummm… uncomfortable, disturbed.”
Public Defender Oshinuga whispered with his client, Mr. Grandly Inappropriate. At last the defender of the defenseless beamed his winning smile and introduced himself to the reluctant witness.
“How’d ye do, Ms. Slocum. Pleasant autumn day, isn’t it?”
Well, it was a nice day until I arrived in this place where it's all pervs and penises.
“When you first saw my client, how far away were you?”
“Maybe 25 feet.”
“Did he say anything?”
“Did he make any gestures?”
“So you were unsure whether he was looking towards you two ladies, weren’t you?”
“I couldn’t see well enough to tell if he was looking at the house.”
Ms. Larson called Sergeant Cedric Crook of the Ukiah Police Department Crook had been the patrol sergeant that hot, libidinous August day. Crook, like all cops, is a PhD in aberrant behavior. He calmly recited his stark version of events.
“It was 9:50-something. Officer Schapmire had the suspect in custody and he [the suspect] first told me he had been ‘trying to go pee and was only shaking his penis’ when he got aroused by the presence of a female and started jacking off. He later admitted to pulling down his pants and jacking off. He said a female in a silver Jeep Liberty had arrived.”
“Did Mr. Rupp tell you whether or not he ejaculated?”
“He said he did not. He said he got nervous. He said he’d never done it before.”
“He said he’d never done what before?”
“He said he’d never jacked off in public before.”
“Did he admit he’d lied about having to urinate?”
“He did, yes.”
“That’s all I have,” Larson said.
Oshinuga asked the officer, “What time did you say it was when you arrived?”
“So he would have been seen by the first female before that time?”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
“Did he tell you where the first female went?”
“He said he wasn’t positive, but he thought she’d gone into the residence.”
“Isn’t it true that he said he wasn’t masturbating when he first saw the female exit the silver Jeep Liberty?”
“That’s when he first said he got aroused.”
“So, the masturbation could have occurred after the women had gone inside the residence?”
“It could have.”
“In your report you said he thought she saw him 'jerking off.' Now, were those his words or yours?”
“I don’t understand.”
“You said he said he thought she saw him jerking off, but did you say, ‘Did she see you jerking off’ and he said, ‘Yes’, or did he say he thought she saw him jerking off?”
“I don’t understand what you mean.”
“I mean, Did he just say ‘Yes’ to your questions or did he make the statements about his having thought she saw him jacking off?”
“I don’t recall.”
“So when you say he admitted he was aroused, that was in response to a question of yours?”
“I don’t remember whether it was something he said or a question of mine he answered.”
“So those are not words out of his mouth?”
“Most likely anything he said were his responses to my questions.”
“So you don’t know if he said he thought she saw him or merely said ‘yes’ to your question?”
“Correct. It could have been what he said or an answer to a question.”
Ms. Larson called Officer Tyler Schapmire.
“Where were you on the morning of August 8th at about 10 o’clock?”
“I was dispatched to an address on Cypress Avenue.”
Larson suggested Officer Schapmire check his report. He did so and admitted his mistake, “I was dispatched to the 800 block of Maple Avenue.”
“You just had the wrong tree,” Judge Behnke quipped.
“What did you find on Maple Avenue, Officer Schapmire?”
“The defendant, Corey Rupp, with his pants down.”
“What did he tell you he was doing?”
“He said he’d been urinating and was just shaking it off. Then Sergeant Crook arrived and I went to talk to the two females. When I got back Sergeant Crook informed me that Rupp had admitted to masturbating. He said he lived on Cypress Avenue and had left the house after an argument with family members. He admitted that his penis was exposed and that he had been masturbating in public.”
“Did you ask him whether any of the females had seen him?”
“I don’t believe I clarified that with him.”
Oshinuga asked, “Did Ms. Carrera specify where she first saw my client?”
“She said she first saw him on the sidewalk by her driveway.”
“Did she say he was looking at her?”
“She never told me specifically that she saw him look at them.”
“The People rest,” Larson said.
Oshinuga put his hapless client on the stand.
“How ya doin’?”
“Did you have a fight that day?”
“About 3:30 in the morning.”
“What did you do?”
“I left the house and started walking.”
“Are you on any medications?”
“Yes. Welbutrin and Abilify.”
“Did you take ‘em that morning?”
“No, I didn’t get a chance to.”
“How long was it before you started masturbating?”
“About seven hours.”
“Did you see anyone?”
“Did you hear anything?”
“Yes, a voice saying ‘What are you doing?’ and telling me to leave.”
“What did you do?”
“I left, then came back. The only person I saw was the one in the Jeep.”
“Left and came back?” There may be stalking implications here, and public masturbation, like many ostensibly harmless sexual behaviors, can be the opening act to much more dire crimes.
Ms. Larson declined to cross.
Judge Behnke asked for closing arguments. Larson reserved hers.
Oshinuga summed up: “My position is that my client wasn’t directing any public attention to his genitals; he was behind a tree, so he couldn’t be seen from the street; and, secondly, he didn’t see anyone or do anything to draw attention to himself. When Ms. Carrera spoke to him he left. The second time she saw him he was 25 to 30 feet away, and Ms. Slocum said she was unsure whether he was looking at them or trying to draw attention to himself. So it is defense’s position that the second element of the charge hasn’t been proved.”
Ms. Larson told it from The People's perspective: “The defendant admits to exposing himself in public and admits to masturbating. He admits to leaving and then returning to the area. There’s case law that asserts the other person doesn’t have to see his genitals to prove intent. In this case he was clearly aware that others were present — he was facing the house masturbating when he knew people were in it.”
Judge Behnke took a ten-minute recess to read some law. When he returned he said, “The defendant did expose his private parts in a public place, and in the purview of the statute — Ms. Carrera was in the area and told him to leave and when Ms. Slocum arrives, he returns and repeats the conduct — we have lewd conduct in their presence. It seems to me this is a situation where the defendant was acting with lewd intent, so I do find him guilty.”
Sentencing was set for November 25th. ¥¥