There is a bizarre case out of the Michigan where Kevin VanLuven, 60, was convicted of aggravated indecent exposure. That itself is unfortunately not strange or rare. However, VanLuven was convicted of using a Tickle Me Elmo doll to masturbate while he was inspecting a residence for a potential purchaser. He was, however, acquitted of malicious destruction of property under $200. Both charges are misdemeanors.
We often discuss bizarre cases that push the limits of definitions under the criminal code. This is one such case.
The case began when homeowner Jaida Dodson remotely accessed her home security cameras to check on the progress of the inspection. She testified that she saw VanLuven remove a Tickle Me Elmo doll that had been among stuffed animals stored in a small teepee tent in the bedroom of Dodson’s two-year-old son and used it to pleasure himself.
The case involved an unsuccessful effort to suppress a confession of VanLuven after being confronted by officers. However, the two charges are interesting. I am assuming that the destruction of property was the Elmo doll and I would think that that would have been the easy charge. It is not like the parents are going to give the doll back to their son.
Here is a picture of the immediate victim:
However, the exposure charge is interesting. MCL 750.335b for aggravated indecent exposure involves cases where a person openly exposes their genitals, buttocks, or breasts in a public. The bedroom was clearly treated as a public space even though it was in a private home and there were no witnesses present. There was a camera that he clearly did not know about.
The main defense appears to be that VanLuven’s genitals were never exposed to the camera. That raises a good-faith challenge since the exposure of his genitals was never actually visible to the camera or onlookers and he was in a bedroom alone at the time. That makes it a rather novel case . . . beyond the obvious other novel elements.
However, the court ultimately rejected the defense challenge.
Judge Phyllis McMillen will sentence VanLuven on December 2 and he faces a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $2000 fine.