Indecent Exposure: “Mooning” is Not “Obscene”

Can one be convicted in Virginia for “Indecent Exposure” for “mooning” someone?  According to the Court of Appeal in a case out of Shenandoah County, the answer is “no.”

A 14 year old kid “mooned” his school bus driver on the last day of school.  (“Mooning” involves exposing one’s buttocks).  In this instance, the child asked his bus driver, “Ms. Bridget, you want to know what the little piggy said all the way home?”  He then dropped his pants, exposing his buttocks and ran away yelling “wee, wee, wee.”  The driver, not laughing, called the police who charged the boy with Indecent Exposure.  He was convicted by the Circuit Court after a trial.

On appeal, he argued that the evidence was insufficient for his conviction.  The Court of Appeals agreed and dismissed his case.  The appellate court held that Virginia’s Indecent Exposure statute, 18.2-387 requires “obscene conduct.”  Section 18.2-372 defines “obscene conduct” as conduct appealing to the prurient interest in sex, excretory functions, or sadomasochistic abuse.  “Mooning” is none of those things.

Of particular note, the Court listed some common ways of proving “obscene conduct” — admission, visible arousal, masturbatory behavior, or other circumstances.  It also wrote, however, that “mooning” was probably a violation of Virginia’s Disorderly Conduct law under 18.2-415.  So, any would-be “mooners” should hesitate before going “wee, wee, wee all the way home.”  However, for this 14 year old kid’s childish prank, the case was dismissed.

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