A new ruling out of federal court in Brooklyn seems to indicate that masturbating in public is totally legal in New York state -- you know, as long as you keep your wanking
out of view of that public.
Retired detective Joseph Tesoriere was busted in August of last year in a remote corner of Gateway National Park for exposing himself to an undercover park ranger. The ranger had gone into the bushes with Tesoriere and was therefore, it seems, hidden from public view.
The New York Post
interprets Judge Ramon Reyes Jr.'s ruling to mean "that it ain't public lewdness if it ain't public."
Civil rights attorney Wylie Stecklow, who was not involved in the case and does not believe that public masturbation is acceptable, nonetheless disputes the paper's interpretation.
"The Post wrote basically a paragraph and tried to encompass a ruling that took a court 16 pages of case law in support of their finding," Stecklow told Asylum. "The Post clearly ignored the law that says that a lewd act has
to take place in public and it has
to be likely that a passerby can see it. The judge said because it was not likely a passerby could see anything
, the prosecution could not prove their case."
Read on for a primer on how to skirt the law when engaging in this questionable behavior.
Stecklow says that a significant factor in the judge's decision was the fact that the trail the incident took place on was far from the park's well-trafficked Plum Beach. "This person removed themselves two or three ways from the public," the attorney explained. "If consenting adults
choose to do this in a way that consenting adults -- and only consenting adults -- can see it, then it falls under the right to privacy."
The prosecution chose to argue on the grounds that it doesn't matter what part of the park
the defendant is in, it's still considered lewdness. Obviously, the judge found plenty of case law with which to dissent with that assertion. Stecklow pointed to a section of the ruling, which states that an "offense against public sensibilities" is only illegal if the act takes place in an area likely to be visited by someone who might be upset about the wanking. An undercover ranger who would not have been in the park otherwise does not count.
"Masturbating by itself in a public place does not qualify as violating the statute," says Stecklow
. As long as you're not in a home without big bay windows or a park bench facing civilization, you can probably cite this ruling and walk away.
So, fire away, wankers. Get off
on charges of getting off while off the beaten path.