LSA senior Andrew Eastman, president of the Residence Halls Association, was found not guilty of indecent exposure by a Washtenaw County Courthouse judge on Feb. 22. Eastman was arrested in West Quad residence hall on Jan. 13 after a student reported seeing Eastman masturbate through a window of the dorm.
During the trial, the prosecution called four witnesses, including two students who claimed to have seen Eastman masturbating, said Lisa Clark, the Department of Public Safety officer who made the arrest.
Student Legal Services attorney Orlando Simon represented Eastman.
After the prosecution presented its case, Simon opted not to call any witnesses and asked for a directed verdict from Judge Elizabeth Hines, arguing that the prosecution failed to meet its burden of proof. A directed verdict is usually called for when the defense thinks the prosecution has not actually proved any of the charges. They are more common in civil cases, and especially rare in a bench trial, where there is no jury.
Simon argued that the witnesses called by the prosecution said they saw Eastman making a “masturbating motion,” but they couldn’t prove whether Eastman had actually exposed himself.
Clark said when she initially confronted Eastman in West Quad he claimed not to know what she was talking about. After telling him she had received a call about somebody masturbating in a window, Eastman responded by saying, “That’s certainly weird,” she said.
Hines decided in Eastman’s favor, saying the prosecution only showed that he acted like he was masturbating, not that he had actually done it.
The not guilty verdict was a relief for Eastman, who declined to go into details about the case.
“At this point the trial is behind me,” Eastman said. “I’m moving on. It’s over, it’s done.”
Had he been found guilty, Eastman could have faced three years of probation, a $1,000 fine and been forced to submit a DNA sample.
Eastman denied the charges leading up to the trial, and said he planned to keep his post as president of RHA, which acts as the student government of University residence halls.
After his arrest last month, five of the eight RHA executive board members other than Eastman stepped down.
Some board members cited Eastman’s arrest and refusal to step down as reasons for leaving.