FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — A man accused of exposing himself on a Westport beach was released from custody following his arraignment in Fall River District Court Tuesday.
Andrew Butler is charged with gross and open lewdness. During the arraignment, and police say more charges are likely after the case caused half a dozen new alleged victims to come forward.
The judge ordered Butler to stay away from Gooseberry Island and Horseneck Beach.
Police said the investigation began May 12 after a female snapped a picture of a man she said exposed and fondled himself in front of her on Gooseberry Island.
Westport Detective Jeff Majewski said after releasing the photo to the public last week, investigators received numerous leads, including tips from Butler’s coworkers at Rhode Island Hospital.
East Providence police arrested Butler, 45, at his home on North Broadway Monday. Eyewitness News crews were there as police carried out a computer. Detectives said they also seized a cell phone and are looking for evidence on both devices.
Police said following his extradition back to Massachusetts, Butler and his attorney met with investigators.
According to a news release from police, Butler “was cooperative and admitted that it was him in the photograph. He stated he was doing what was alleged but thought he was far enough away from other people.”
Police pointed out in the release that two additional people could be seen in the image.
Eyewitness News spoke with John Grasso, Butler’s attorney, outside of court Tuesday. He said his client never admitted to anything.
“As soon as he realized that his face was posted all over Facebook…he’s done everything humanly possible to cooperate with this effort,” Grasso said.
Grasso said Butler contacted him last week after seeing his photo on Facebook. Grasso said he immediately contacted police and offered to bring Butler in for questioning. Police instead arrested Butler at his home in East Providence Monday and extradited him to Massachusetts.
Police deny Grasso’s timeline of events, saying Butler had time to turn himself in. Police say in the few days before they arrested him on Monday, Butler got rid of evidence including the clothing he was wearing in the victim’s photo.
Following the release of that picture, investigators said they received information from six more women who said Butler exposed himself to them, too.
“Social media was really his undoing,” Majewski said.
Court documents detail those other victims’ accounts. Most of them describe a gold Mercedes, in addition to positively identifying the photo of Butler. The report said the gold Mercedes was in the garage when Butler was arrested in East Providence.
Police say those other witness accounts could lead to further charges, as could a verbal confrontation Butler had with the first victim at Gooseberry Island.
“He tried to engage in small talk about the weather,” the report reads. “[She] said something along the lines of ‘I have your picture.’ The male party then asked if she ‘wanted to see more.'”
Police said anyone else who feels they may have been a victim should contact them immediately.
“There is a much bigger issue at hand when someone is the victim of this type of crime,” Det. Majewski said. “The offender, if not caught, will most likely do it again and the behavior might escalate.”
Butler is due back in court July 12 for a pre-trial hearing.
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