A man who has been charged eight times before with indecent exposure has been charged again after a census worker said he exposed himself to her last week.

Tristan Douglas Coffey, 20, of 2520 Burke Smokey Creek Road, was charged with misdemeanor use of premises for indecent exposure, according to a warrant for arrest served Wednesday.

The victim spoke to reporters Thursday and said she had finished collecting data for the census and was about to leave Coffey’s house when she saw him standing in front of her car, naked and touching himself.

She said he kept walking toward her car as she was driving away.

“(I was) certainly shocked,” the victim said. “I worked in social work before this job for many years, so there’s not a lot that really shocks me.”

When she was driving away, she said that she started running through things she could have done differently to avoid the incident.

“People put themselves in a position where they want to say ‘what could I have done better?’” she said. “I think you want to blame yourself, and I think that’s why I wanted to report this ... it’s not my fault that he did this crazy thing, and it’s not anybody’s fault but his.”

The victim said she thought it was an impulsive decision on Coffey’s part.

“The second I saw him, I knew he had done it before and I knew he would do it again,” she said. “There was a confidence, I guess, about it. You could tell that it was an impulsivity that he just can’t help it.”

She was right on at least one account. This isn’t the first time Coffey has been accused of indecent exposure.

Since 2018, Coffey has racked up eight other indecent exposure charges across Burke and Caldwell counties, according to a search of the North Carolina Judicial Branch website. That doesn’t include a misdemeanor stalking charge and two charges for assault with a deadly weapon.

According to previous News Herald articles, Coffey has previously been accused of exposing himself:

» after trying to run a woman off the road.

» when a woman approached his car that was stopped on the side of the road.

» to a woman at a car wash.

» to a woman working at a business in Rutherford College.

» to a woman walking her dogs in Rutherford College.

The census worker said if she could, she would tell him and his family that he needs help.

“It’s not going to go away without help,” she said.

District Attorney Scott Reilly told WSOCTV, The News Herald’s news partner, that his office hopes to resolve Coffey’s previous charges up in court in November.

Coffey’s bond was set at $35,000 secured with a court date set for Oct. 28, according to the Burke County Police to Citizen website.

Get today’s top stories right in your inbox. Sign up for our daily newsletter.

Chrissy Murphy can be reached at cmurphy@morganton.com or at 828-432-8941. Follow @cmurphy MNH on Twitter.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.