MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis businessman will have his indecent exposure charge dropped, but prosecutors made sure to state on the record they believe he acted in the way the victim explained.
Friday’s hearing lasted only about two minutes, as the state announced it would drop the charge against Andrew Crosby.
WREG’s Stacy Jacobson was the only reporter in the courtroom.
The decision comes nearly eight months after the incident described in an affidavit occurred. According to the affidavit, on May 16, 2020, Andrew Crosby was in his own home when he masturbated in a room where three teens were having a sleepover.
The affidavit stated two were asleep, but the 14-year-old who was awake and saw it later told her parents. They reported it to law enforcement.
For the first time, a Shelby County prosecutor shared what happened behind the scenes.
According to Assistant District Attorney Lessie Rainey, Memphis Police made the decision to charge Crosby with indecent exposure. The DA’s office soon realized that charge would be a problem, Rainey said.
“It sounds like indecent exposure. But if you read the indecent exposure statute it’s very specific about the age of the parties and the places it has to take place. It cannot happen in a private home with a victim who’s over 13,” she said.
That loophole has now prompted State Rep. Mark White (R- Memphis) to draft legislation to change the law, as WREG first reported.
“If I see there’s an outlet where children aren’t protected then my job is to do that,” White said.
Rainey said prosecutors couldn’t come up with a better charge to fit the circumstances, so they offered Crosby a consent order on continuance to delay the case if Crosby followed certain requirements, like staying away from the school where his daughter and the victim attend.
Rainey said that dilemma explains why the Shelby County District Attorney’s office now supports the change in the law.
“It’s not that we didn’t believe what the victim said,” Rainey said in court.
She made clear why the state was dropping the charge.
“I know what she said happened, happened. But what she said happened doesn’t fall under the statute the way it was written,” Rainey said. “It’s frustrating because I would’ve liked to be able to do something better for the victim here.”
Attorney Jeff Rosenblum appeared at court on behalf of the victim, who did not come to the hearing. WREG asked Rosenblum if the teen’s family feels like Crosby received any special treatment.
“At the beginning they may have felt that way but now they realize the state of Tennessee truly wanted to prosecute him if there was a way to prosecute,” Rosenblum said.
Rosenblum said the victim would be satisfied with Friday’s outcome, given the prosecutor stated her support on the record and the new efforts in Nashville.
“The victim continues to deal with this and it’s something that won’t go away overnight but this is again a step in the right direction,” he said. “Right now they’re focused on the healing of their daughter and this is a pathway to that healing when there is honesty and transparency in the process, when they say, ‘We believe the victim. We believe there was lude and indecent conduct at that house.’”
Crosby did not attend court Friday. His attorney, Mark McDaniel Sr., said his client didn’t need to come because of COVID-19 protocols at the courthouse. He spoke on his client’s behalf.
“The law was followed and Mr. Crosby should’ve never been arrested based upon the conduct that was alleged. Even if true, the conduct as alleged is not criminal in Tennessee,” McDaniel said. “What the prosecutor’s opinion is on whether they believe their victims or not, obviously they’re entitled to that. I believe my client.”
When asked, McDaniel did not give any details on his client’s response.
“My client has exercised his right to remain silent,” McDaniel said.
But others are speaking up.
“The public pressure and morality of this office here caused them to reach out to legislators to say we have to tighten this statute,” Rosenblum said. “We need to make sure the world knows in Tennessee if you do what Mr. Crosby is accused of doing, it will be prosecuted.”
White said he plans to introduce his bill in the legislature in the coming weeks.