Alleged library flasher charged

University police filed charges against a 39-year-old Minneapolis man Thursday on two counts of indecent exposure.

David Lee Gatson is believed to be the man who allegedly exposed himself to two women in Walter Library last week, on separate occasions.

In both cases, Gatson approached the women and began masturbating in front of them, according to the complaints filed with Hennepin County.

Gatson was arrested Tuesday evening after he returned to Walter Library and library employees notified police, University police Chief Greg Hestness said.

Gatson was not exposing himself when he was arrested, Hestness said.

The Minneapolis Police Department is investigating whether Gatson is responsible for recent similar incidents at the University of St. Thomas, Augsburg College and The Purple Onion Café, Hestness said.

Gatson is being charged with a gross misdemeanor because of his prior offenses, Hestness said.

He has been convicted of at least three indecent exposure charges in Hennepin County, according to the complaint.

University police Deputy Chief Steve Johnson said Gatson has served prison time in Texas, Nebraska and Minnesota for multiple charges – including indecent exposure.

Gatson is being held at the Hennepin County Jail, and his bail is set at $2,000.

Sgt. Jim Spencer, MPD sex crimes investigator, said that incidents of indecent exposure are often committed by repeat offenders.

Cases similar to this one occur weekly, but tend to be more frequent around universities, he said.

Hestness said indecent exposure occurs periodically on campus, though Gatson’s case seemed particularly “menacing.”

“This behavior seemed to be more obsessive,” he said. “It wasn’t just a matter of stepping out and exposing yourself.”

In the incident that took place April 3, Gatson had “arranged chairs around the victim in a ‘barricading’ fashion” before exposing himself, according to the complaint.

Hestness said the victim expressed concerns of feeling “isolated” and “trapped.”

One victim from Walter Library last week said she was happy to hear Gatson was arrested and feels safer knowing he is not on campus any longer.

“I’m also assuming that he’s not the only one,” she added.

Gatson could face up to one year in prison and a fine of $3,000 for each count.