Exposing The Exposers: Repeat Offenders Can Be Found Around Columbus
CrimeTracker 10 dug through hundreds of public indecency reports and found several Columbus men arrested for repeatedly exposing themselves to unsuspecting women.
It's happening right now in Grandview, where police say they're looking for a man who's exposed himself to 15 women in the past 13 months.
Connie is one victim. When a man exposed himself to her, she did not walk away quietly.
“I just went ballistic on him. I was screaming. If people heard me, they probably thought I was the crazy one,” said Connie.
WEB EXTRA: Have A Plan
Police say to have a plan in case a man exposes himself to you. Find out more.
Connie's story begins on March 2, 1995, near McKee alley in downtown Columbus. She was putting money in the parking meter when she noticed a man walking towards her.
He darted past her and headed into the alley. When Connie heard a noise, she saw him exposing himself. The following week, it happened again.
“I called the police, I said, ‘you better get him before I do because if I find him, he's dead,’” she added.
Police found him, and Oscar Hilterbrand was charged with public indecency.
10TV uncovered court records that reveal police have charged Hilterbrand with public indecency five times. Police say the most recent incident happened this month, on July 1, at the corner of South High and Main Street.
And there are other repeat offenders.
Mark North was charged at least a dozen times with public indecency and voyeurism, accused of peering into windows and then exposing himself.
Dawaylan Hall has been charged with public indecency 19 times. Investigators tell 10TV Hall would drive his car and flag down joggers.
“And say he was lost and pull the map and he would be masturbating for the female joggers,” said Sgt. Dave Pelphrey, Columbus Division of Police.
Police say in 2012, Hall began exposing himself to women inside coffee shops, including one on North High Street.
Ohio law says public indecency is a third degree misdemeanor. After three convictions, the charges escalate to a 1st degree misdemeanor. If the victim is a child, it's a 5th degree felony. That means the maximum punishment these suspects could ever face is a year and a half behind bars.
“That's the most we could possibly get, stacking offenses, with a judge that's willing to do that,” said Lara Baker-Morrish, Columbus City Attorney’s Office.
10TV dug through court documents and found none of the suspects came close to serving the maximum sentence. North's most recent run in with the law sent him to jail for 55 days. He served two years of community control.
Last year, Hall spent 23 days behind bars and another 60 days in home confinement. He's serving five years of community control until 2018.
“Jail time is not a deterrent for most of these individuals. They have a compulsion that they're acting under,” added Baker-Morrish.
Prosecutors argue a shorter sentence means the court can keep tabs on the exposers for a much longer time.
“Really, if we want longer term protection, we need some probation on the back end to keep them under control,” she added.
Police say they're keeping close tabs, too.
“Because we believe those can lead to more serious sex crimes,” said Sgt. Dave Phlphrey.
Connie says the incident taught her to trust her instincts.
“If you get a gut feeling, pay attention to the gut feeling.”
Prosecutors say placing serial exposers on probation allows the court to offer mental health assessments and treatment.
One of the suspects, Mark North, is now required to register as a sex offender because of the voyeurism conviction.