To hear the prosecution tell it, Ryan Eric Galliher is a Los Angeles policeman and serial "flasher" who repeatedly showed his penis to passersby on a Bolsa Chica wetlands nature trail, including a 12-year-old girl who caught the act three different times and was once invited to touch the throbbing member.
To hear the defense tell it, the prosecution's got the wrong man.
To bolster its contention, defense attorney Bill Seki told jurors at the trial's opening in Santa Ana Tuesday that Huntington Beach Police investigated 10 flashing incidents in the Bolsa Chica area but the Orange County District Attorney's office is only charging Galliher with six of them because some victims cannot identify the 33-year-old as the suspect.
Meanwhile, for some of the incidents where victims did finger Galliher, Seki's client has alibis, says the attorney in Paul Anderson's City News Service coverage of opening statements.
"This is a case of faulty ID and a faulty investigation," Seki told jurors. "… After listening to all of the evidence in this case, you're going to hear identification in this case is not trustworthy."
Noting that Galliher joined the LAPD after a stint with a military unit charged with "protecting the president," Seki said of his client, "This is a person of great character. He's trustworthy. He's reliable. He's not a deviant."
But deviant is exactly what springs to mind when hearing Senior Deputy District Attorney Jess Rodriguez's characterization of the defendant.
"Ryan Galliher likes exposing himself in public, in broad daylight to strangers," Rodriguez told jurors. "He acted out on this desire over and over and over again until he was finally caught by the Huntington Beach Police Department in the act."
Investigators doing surveillance at Bolsa Chica on Oct. 23, 2014, watched Galliher "as he takes off his shirt and shorts and starts masturbating," Rodriguez alleged.
Several reports of a flasher dating back to February 2014 had spurred the police to watch the area. It started when the 12-year-old, who liked taking a shortcut home through the wetlands, saw a man "look at her and her friends with one hand rubbing his crotch," the
prosecutor told jurors.
On Feb. 27 of that year, she was walking home from school by herself when she saw the same man, only that time "his penis is actually exposed, sticking out of his shorts," Rodriguez alleged.
"Is this big enough?'' the flasher is reported to have told the girl standing a few feet from him. "… You can touch it if you want to."
The girl tried taking the long way home to avoid the man on March 10, 2014, but she heard a voice, turned around and witnessed the same man exposing himself, the
prosecutor alleged. Police were first contacted after that incident and told of the previous ones.
On April 18 of last year, an 82-year-old woman reported seeing a flasher touching himself on Bolsa Chica Street, and the ongoing investigation on June 17, 2014, actually included a police officer questioning Galliher, who was running in the area.
"They stopped the defendant and he immediately tells them he's an off-duty police officer," Rodriguez said. "So the officer who talks to him lets him go."
Six days later, after police received another call regarding a flasher in the area, investigators began zeroing in on Galliher as a suspect. Incidents continued until Oct. 20 of last year, when athletes from Cal State Long Beach training in the wetlands saw a man exposing himself to them, Rodriguez said.
And that bit about alibis? According to Rodriguez, Galliher was off from his job as an LAPD officer on the dates of the flashings.
He is charged with one felony count each of attempted lewd act on a child younger than 14 and contacting a minor with the intent to commit a lewd act, and six counts of indecent exposure and one count of engaging in lewd conduct–all misdemeanors.
Galliher faces up to four years in prison and lifetime sex offender registration if he's convicted.