Man denies lewdness, claiming missing part

Joseph "Donald" Scordato offered a rare defense when Ridgewood police charged him with masturbating in public.

"That’s not possible," the 81-year-old man told police after his arrest in September. "I don’t have a penis."

Scordato, of Paterson, appeared for his arraignment Monday in state Superior Court in Hackensack on one count of lewdness.

Brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair, he fell asleep while he waited for his case to be called. He said he wasn’t able to hire a lawyer because he was in the hospital.

State Superior Court Judge William Meehan instructed him to get a lawyer before his next hearing on April 24.

"Can I represent myself?" Scordato asked.

"Then you will have a fool for a client," the judge replied.

Authorities say Scordato parked his car across the street from a movie theater on Cottage Place on Sept. 16, unzipped his pants and began masturbating in the middle of the afternoon.

A beautician working in a nearby salon saw him as she walked past the car and called police, Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Dave Calviello said.

Scordato had pulled away when police arrived but was stopped shortly afterward, Calviello said.

When confronted by detectives, Scordato denied that he was masturbating in plain view, according to a Sept. 16 police report.

"I have dry skin, and I have to itch it a lot," he was quoted as saying in the report.

Scordato was indicted three weeks ago by a Bergen County grand jury on a charge of lewdness. Exposing intimate parts in a public place where children could be present is a fourth-degree crime — carrying as much as 18 months in state prison.

Matthew Winthrop, a caretaker who wheeled Scordato into court, said Scordato was innocent.

"He is a very good man," Winthrop said.

Asked how he felt about the charges, Scordato uttered an obscenity and said, "Let’s get out of here."

Records show Scordato was arrested in 1997 for a similar offense and convicted of fourth-degree lewdness. He was sentenced to three years’ probation and was ordered to attend sex-offender counseling.

Calviello declined to comment on how he will counter Scordato’s defense.

"There is no information that would lead us to think that he is missing any body parts that men his age typically have," Calviello said.

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