LAWRENCEVILLE -- Did a 67-year-old Cumming resident spy on a woman in the bathroom of Suwanee's public library to feed some perverse desire, or was it simply a case of walking in the wrong door and panicking at an inopportune moment?
That's the question posed to jurors Tuesday in a rare peeping Tom trial in Gwinnett Superior Court, one with accusations that could cost the defendant a decade in prison.
In opening statements, Assistant District Attorney Stephen Fern told jurors how Bernard Lindsey, a library regular, used a handicapped stall in the women's restroom on the afternoon of Oct. 10, 2009, as a vantage point into other stalls.
He was caught, Fern said, when a 68-year-old woman working on her doctoral dissertation saw his head popping over the stalls' low walls while washing her hands after using the facilities.
Busted, Lindsey bee-lined for his car and left the library, but not before the alleged victim pointed him out to several employees, Fern said.
Defense attorney Lucas Harsh conceded that his client was in the women's restroom, but called his being there a simple mistake. Lindsey only peeked over the stalls when it dawned on him a woman may be in the room, the attorney maintained.
Besides, Harsh argued, his client is homosexual and has never so much as dated a woman.
"It makes no sense that he's in a restroom trying to peep," Harsh told jurors.
As to why Lindsey didn't try to apologize or explain himself, Harsh said his client was "mortified" and intent on separating himself from the embarrassing situation as soon as possible.
Fern told jurors the alleged victim and three library employees followed Lindsey to the parking lot and jotted the tag number on his Toyota Echo. Authorities later used that information to match Lindsey's drivers license photo with a surveillance image.
Lindsey was arrested on Christmas Eve 2009, spent four days in the Gwinnett County Jail and has been free on bond since. If convicted, he could face between two and 10 years in prison, according to Georgia code.
From the witness stand, the alleged victim, now 70, testified she felt violated by the experience, though she never actually saw Lindsey watching her use the toilet. A stall separated the two, she told Harsh during cross-examination.
While washing her hands, she noticed his big shoes and trousers, and inquired if he was a man, but the person in the stall never spoke, she testified.
"I was concerned because I had no idea how long he'd been in there," the woman testified. "I started thinking about children who go into public libraries that was my main concern, actually."
Testimony is expected to continue today.