Barry Saunders

New law not needed to avoid seeing naked Charlotte man

Gerard Leeper should at least demand that the legislature name the law he’s inspiring after him.

Leeper is the Charlotte man who, depending upon which side of the window you’re standing, is exercising his rights to exercise naked or is nudely unnerving his neighbors.

Cardinal Glen neighborhood residents said they have for a decade complained about Leeper’s habit of standing naked in his home’s door, window or garage. Xavier Hodges, president of the homeowners association, told me Leeper sometimes comes outside naked, “but it’s hard to catch him on camera.”

Police said their hands are tied because Leeper is breaking no laws, but they want to fix that by changing the law. In a written statement he sent to me, Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department spokesman Robert Tufano said officers have arrested Leeper three times at his home for indecent exposure. Each time the charges were dismissed.

Are cops giving up?

No way. Tufano said “We are currently looking at the unique facts in this case and in all likelihood we will be approaching the legislature with a recommendation that the law be amended” to ban nudity not only in a public place, “but (in) a place that can be readily observed by the public.”

Freedom demands tolerance

Hmmm, what’s more obscene than a man standing in his own house naked?

Tailoring a law to fit a questionable offense by one man, that’s what. Even those who sympathize with the neighbors know that a la carte justice will only lead to abuses, as neighbors petition lawmakers to outlaw everything they don’t like.

Living in a free society means tolerating others’ ideas of freedom, even if you don’t like it. Why, it’s possible, but highly unlikely, that my neighbors don’t like hearing Z.Z. Hill blaring from my stereo all day every September 30 – Z.Z.’s birthday – but they haven’t sicced the law on me for it. If this persecution of Leeper succeeds, though, they may be emboldened to go to the legislature and demand a law restricting the playing of “Cheatin’ In The Next Room.”

Knowing there’s a nude dude so easily viewed can’t be easy, so I asked Hodges if the neighbors have taken up a collection and bought their favorite forever-nude neighbor a pair of silk pajamas as a gift and a hint.

In other words, instead of tailoring a law to fit one man, why not tailor him a pair of jammies?

“No, sir,” Hodges said, and the only thing she wants to tailor is a homeowners association clothing clause. One thing neighbors recommend for Leeper is counseling.

“After he does what he does,” she said, “he goes around and apologizes to neighbors, crying. ... Then he turns right around and does it again.”

Leeper has insisted that the only crime being committed is the invasion of his privacy. He’s no latter-day Lady Godiva, going naked as a political statement. He seems to be just a man who wants to be left alone to lift weights naked.

With the weather fixing to break, neighbors have even more to worry about, because when the flowers come out so, apparently, does Leeper. “When we have nice days,” Hodges said, “it gets worse. He’s all out in the garage with the door open, lifting weights butt nude.”

She also said Leeper’s appearances are timed for maximum exposure, such as when children are getting out of school. “He never does it when the men are out washing their cars or cutting the grass,” she said.

Hodges said she and her neighbors don’t want to turn people into never-nudes even inside their own homes.

“Some of my neighbors say ‘You know, Mrs. Hodges, I’m in my house sometimes nude.’ They say ‘I may run up the stairs’ or ‘If I do have my front door open, I’m zooming past it right quick to run into the kitchen and zooming back. I’m not standing there posing and pausing.’ ”

The proposed law, she said, “would be for when you intentionally” flash your neighbors.

If the proposed “Leeper Lookout” law effort fails, strolling neighborhood residents should heed this idiom: Look before you pass Leeper’s.

Or, better yet, don’t look.

Saunders: 919-836-2811 or bsaunders@newsobserver.com

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