BALDWIN COUNTY, Alabama (WALA) - A Baldwin County man has been in and out of jail for flashing women on the road. He's been doing this for the past two decades, including two incidents that happened this year.
Law enforcement officers have dubbed him The Baldwin County Flasher. But state law doesn't do much to discipline him.
In and out of jail
The Baldwin County Flasher is Dana Stegall. He's certainly no stranger to a jail cell. He's already served roughly ten years in jail. Now his victims are afraid that he will physically hurt someone or someone will hurt him.
Stegall's reputation is known in Baldwin County communities, and in the law enforcement community.
How it all started
His crimes go back 20 years. That's when Robertsdale bookstore manager Lynn Hinote was flashed during the early '90s. She was driving on County Road 83 and saw The Baldwin County Flasher on the side of the road.
"I was getting ready to hold my hand up to wave and all of a sudden the shirt came up, his pants were down. There you go. I was like, 'I know he just did not do that,'" said Hinote.
She reported the case, and Stegall was convicted of indecent exposure. But Hinote said the look in his eyes leaves a lasting impression.
"That's how I picked him out of the line up was his eyes, because when he flipped his shirt up, he covered the bottom part of his face. And all you saw was his eyes and his nose. And it was his eyes. It's something in those eyes, you know something is wrong with him," said Hinote.
Now 20 years later, a Grand Bay woman is telling a similar story. She did not want to reveal her identity because her case is pending.
She told FOX10 earlier this year while at a Loxley gas station, Stegall called her over to his truck. She didn't think twice about it.
"The Southern hospitality, you are helpful to people. You are brought up that way; just to be nice and courteous," said the unidentified woman.
But her niceness would be taken as a weakness. Police reports say Stegall flashed her.
"I couldn't believe it was happening. Not there, not in Baldwin County. People are usually so friendly and asking directions to go to places, and it was just really shocking," said the anonymous victim.
Then she got a bigger shock. She discovered Stegall had been arrested more than two dozen times by five different agencies for the same offense.
Current District Attorney Judy Newcomb prosecuted some of those cases against Stegall when she was an Assistant DA.
"Typically throughout the years, he's entered not guilty pleas," said Newcomb.
In fact, when he was accused of a recent crime, he told FOX10 he was at a Christian concert.
"I swear to God on my momma's dead grave I didn't do that Robertsdale thing. I was on my way to Winter Jam, about 3:30 when it happened. I just turned myself in to get this over with," said Stegall, while walking out of a recent court appearance.
Newcomb said the criminal system can only charge him with indecent exposure.
"Because it's a misdemeanor, while in the state court system, it's a more severe penalty than in the municipal court. It's still only a year that the judge can sentence him,"said Newcomb.
But the reality of the judicial system didn't sit too well with the Loxley victim. So she took action.
"I started a petition. I sent it out via e-mail and also in person. Right now, we got right over a thousand signatures," she said.
What can be done?
So FOX10 wanted to find out if that petition caught any lawmaker's attention. We took our report and the victim's concerns to the Mobile legislative delegation. Our report lead us to Representative Jim Barton.
He acknowledged the victim's concerns. That's why he recently drafted a bill to fight repeat offenders like Stegall. The bill would make indecent exposure a felony for those convicted three times or more. But the legislative session has come and gone, and the bill didn't make it very far.
"We got it down to the judiciary committee. We didn't get it up on the House floor for consideration," said Barton.
He said some his colleagues believe people like Stegall should be rehabilitated rather than incarcerated.
"I don't argue that point, but the money is not there to do it. So I am not comfortable turning my head or turning a blind eye to the issue. Let's incarcerate and if the money is available in the future, then we'll rehabilitate,"said Barton.
However, that argument wasn't enough to pass the bill, so it will have to be reintroduced again next year.
A waiting game
As for now, Stegall's victims have different attitudes about life.
"You don't have that. 'Hi how are you doing?' type feeling. It's like, 'What are they doing? What are they wanting?' That type of distrust in people. I want to get back where I can trust people again," said the anonymous Loxley victim.
"If something is not done about him, I'm scared it is going to escalate," said Hinote.
Elections are coming up soon, so that will be a huge factor in the future of this bill.