A 51-year-old Greenbriar man is facing a possible 20 years in prison after pleading guilty Monday to two counts of indecent liberties with a minor. He is Jerome Anthony Fleming of 13205 Pressmont Lane in Chantilly.
The Fairfax County grand jury in May indicted him — concluding that, on two occasions in January, Fleming "did unlawfully, feloniously and with lascivious intent expose [his] sexual or genital parts" to two little girls, ages 7 and 4. After Circuit Court Judge Dennis Smith read the indictments on Monday, Fleming entered two Alford pleas of guilt.
It means he doesn't admit guilt, but acknowledges that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict him of the crimes of which he is accused. Fairfax County police actually charged him with four counts of indecent liberties with a minor; two were later dropped, and the other two went to the grand jury.
"Do you understand that these would be felony convictions and there's no plea agreement?" asked Smith. "Yes, your Honor," Fleming replied. Smith also made sure Fleming realized he could receive as much as 10 years in prison for each charge.
ASSISTANT COMMONWEALTH'S Attorney Greg Holt presented the evidence against the Chantilly man, had the case gone to trial. Both incidents happened in department stores in the Fair Lakes Shopping Center. The victims are sisters and residents of Clifton.
On Jan. 10, they were shopping with their family at Target when they noticed a man walking toward them. "He had his arms crossed and was staring at them," said Holt. "He was wearing a green coat, he was unzipped and [he was exposed]."
Then on Jan. 29 in Wal-Mart, the sisters were in the watch department when the older girl saw the man again and recognized him from before. He wore the same coat and was unzipped and exposed.
The first time, the girls didn't tell their parents until two hours later — after they'd returned home — so the man got away. But the second time, the mother also saw him exposed in the store and police were notified immediately.
Holt said Fleming later told police Det. Sean Perkins that he'd "had this problem since he was a child. He didn't know why he did it, but he was ashamed and embarrassed. He said he'd done it before and had exposed himself five times in the past month."
Smith then asked Fleming if he was entering Alford pleas because he was concerned that he'd be found guilty at a trial. "Yes, your Honor," said Fleming. The judge accepted his pleas, noting his belief that, if Fleming did stand trial, "The evidence would substantially overwhelm any protestations of innocence you might have."
THE PROSECUTOR ASKED Smith to revoke Fleming's $10,000 bond so he'd be jailed until sentencing. "He's admitted he did it numerous times before," argued Holt. "The only way to prevent him from doing it to other young girls is to [incarcerate him]."
But defense attorney George Freeman said his client had been receiving help for his "personality quirk" since Feb. 21 and he wanted Fleming out on bond to continue treatment. He then called Dr. Hans Selvog, clinical director of the Augustus Institute, which treats sex offenders.
Selvog said Fleming receives regular group and individual counseling and has "responded very well" to it. Said Selvog: "It's important that he continue to build upon the treatment he's received. As long as he [does], he's not a risk to society."
"Prior to his being arrested, had he come to your clinic for help?" asked Holt? "No," replied the doctor. Selvog also noted that Fleming's receiving antidepressants — "which help not only with his moods, but with his urges [toward] exhibitionism."
Holt asked Selvog if he could "guarantee" that Fleming "won't do it again," but the doctor said he could only give "assurances." Next, Freeman called Fleming to testify.
He said the treatment is helping him "immensely," along with "the support of my family and friends." However, he said he's worked for the Department of Commerce for 31 years and is now losing his job because of his legal problems. He said he needs to remain out on bond to insure that he gets his retirement.
FLEMING SAID HE didn't know the Clifton girls and had exposed himself to them at random. "When you [did so], you knew that was wrong?" asked Holt. "Yes," answered Fleming. "When these urges come, can you control them?" asked Holt. "Therapy is helping me control them," said Fleming.
Freeman said his client's been out on bond since shortly after his arrest and "there's been no problem." Then, after ascertaining that Fleming doesn't expect to be around children at work, Judge Smith continued his bond until his Sept. 5 sentencing.
He ordered Fleming to undergo a pre-sentencing investigation and a mental-health evaluation. Smith also ordered him to meet with the probation officer within 24 hours to set both things in motion. Looking sternly at Fleming, Smith warned him: "If you violate any of these conditions — or any other problems occur — not only will you be picked up, but I'll also consider all of these things in my sentencing."
Afterward, the girls' mother — whom Centre View is not identifying, to protect her children's identities — said her 7-year-old told her that she and her sister will "never forget" what happened to them. And, even as late as this spring, the 4-year-old was coming home from preschool with pictures she'd drawn of Fleming, because she couldn't get him out of her mind.
"If he's got a problem, why not keep the thing in his pants?" their mother wondered. To reassure her daughters, she said, "I tell them he doesn't think like normal people do."
In fact, she said her children were so upset by the Jan. 10 incident that, when they went to the store on Jan. 29, it was the first time they'd gone shopping since their initial encounter with Fleming. Now, she said, "The girls refuse to go to Target or Wal-Mart, anymore. They're stuck to me like glue."