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A Santa Clara police officer was convicted today of indecent exposure at a high-end San Jose store last year. A Santa Clara County Superior Court jury found Thomas Leipelt, 46, guilty of the single misdemeanor charge today after a three-day trial before Judge Paul Bernal at the Hall of Justice in San Jose. Leipelt was off-duty when he exposed himself to an employee at Annieglass, a luxury glassware store at Santana Row Shopping Center, while visiting his girlfriend on May 15. “You always have to respect the jury in their verdict but I’m very, very disappointed and just having a hard time understanding how they came to that conclusion given what happened in the trial,” Leipelt’s attorney Cameron Bowman said after today’s verdict. Bowman said he plans to ask the court for Leipelt to be released and will appeal the verdict.
Leipelt was placed into custody and is scheduled for sentencing on Wednesday, when he faces up to a year in county jail, Bowman said. Leipelt could also be required to register as a sex offender for life. The employee who made the complaint testified that she went to retrieve documents from a printer in the store’s back room, where she saw Leipelt naked and masturbating. The employee said Leipelt asked her to “come here” but she refused and stepped back out to the payment counter. Leipelt’s then-girlfriend, who was the only other person working at the store, was speaking to friends at the front of the store when the incident occurred and repeatedly apologized to the employee.
The victim said she informed her boss of the incident two days after and reported the incident to police later that month. Leipelt had testified that he was partially clothed and the employee walked in on him using the bathroom. Bowman argued last week that the victim’s testimony was unreliable and she failed to inform the court of a restraining order she filed in 2009 for indecent exposure. Leipelt has worked with Santa Clara police for 15 years and was placed on paid administrative leave in May, Santa Clara police Lt. Kurt Clarke said.
The police administrative investigation into Leipelt can now be finalized with the criminal case coming to a close, Clarke said. Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Lindsay Walsh, who was the prosecutor on the case, said she thought the verdict was fair. Walsh said Leipelt’s story was “completely unbelievable” and the victim’s account has been consistent.
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