By Peter Dujardin
A former police officer was found guilty on Thursday of 12 misdemeanors in an incident in which he exposed himself and performed an "obscene sexual display" to several people passing by his home.
Christopher Roush, 42, was acquitted of the felony count of taking indecent liberties with a child, for exposure to a 14-year-old passenger in a car that passed by the Harpersville Road home at about 9 a.m. on April 7.
Several people testified they saw Roush standing "completely naked" in his front doorway, in view of the passing traffic. Several witnesses testified that he appeared to be masturbating with one hand, while holding the glass storm door open with the other.
One woman testified she was driving to a yard sale, with her 14-year-old daughter in the passenger seat, when she saw Roush. She said she screamed, then did a U-turn "to try to see the address."
Officer Thomas Gamache Jr., who was dispatched to the home on various complaints, testified that he saw Roush standing naked in the doorway, then closing the door.
Gamache said he was soon let into the home by Roush's roommate, who led him to Roush's bedroom. Roush didn't immediately answer, but soon came outside and began "belligerently" yelling at Gamache to get off his property.
Roush — who lost his job over the incident — testified Thursday he had no recollection of what he did. He testified that he came home from work at 1 a.m. after working the night shift, and "started to drink liquor."
"I woke up the next afternoon," he said, and when his roommate told him what he had done several hours earlier, "I didn't believe him." But hearing the litany of witnesses before him Thursday — including the wife of a trusted police officer friend — convinced him he had done it, Roush said. "I just don't remember it," he said.
Roush said he's in treatment for a severe drinking problem and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of several incidents, including his on-duty shooting of a pit bull 17 days before the April incident. The dog had to be euthanized.
He was also the first officer who responded to the grisly 2011 homicide scene in which a Newport News man stands accused of killing his wife and her three children.
In early 2010, when Roush was known as Christopher Miner, two juries acquitted him on charges that he had sexually assaulted two women in 2009.
Roush's lawyer, Robert W. Lawrence, asked Circuit Judge Ted Markow to throw out the felony charge involving the juvenile. That request was made on the assertion that Roush didn't know he was exposing himself to a minor, and had no "lascivious intent" in doing so.
Lawrence also asked Markow to "withhold a judgment" on the misdemeanors until after the judge had a chance to see psychologists' evaluation to see "what he was going through at the time."
Markow, a retired judge from Richmond sitting in on the case, agreed to strike the felony indecent liberties charge, saying that part of the case wasn't proven.
But the prosecutor, Suffolk Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Wiser, argued against withholding a judgment on the seven counts of indecent exposure and five counts of making an "obscene sexual display."
Wiser said alcohol use doesn't excuse criminal behavior, and the judge needed to enter a factual finding. While the idea of withholding judgment was "appealing," Markow said, "I don't think I have a choice other than to find him guilty."
After the hearing, Roush apologized to Assistant Newport News Police Chief Joe Moore, who attended the hearing, for "embarrassing the police department." "I appreciate the apology," Moore replied.
Roush will be sentenced May 1.