“This is someone minding his own business who happens to have a penis.”

A New York City commuter accused of public masturbation claimed in court that he was not pleasuring himself but merely repositioning his impractically large member - and was acquitted last week, The New York Daily News ​reported Sunday.


On April 9, the accused -- 61-year-old construction worker Kosta Kolaci -- was captured on video adjusting his loins while riding the subway. Alethia Richardson, a fellow passenger, was able to clandestinely capture the act on her phone. 


“Disrespect. Nasty. Pervert,” she's heard whispering, according the Daily News.


Richardson immediately filed a complaint, claiming that "the man’s penis was erect and appeared to be almost protruding from his pants,” according to the police report, and that the man began to "grab and rub his crotch area."


Kolaci's reputation for debauchery spread quickly. In fact, he was arrested later in April while trying to tear down his own wanted posters.


Last week, his trial came to a close. For its final argument, the defense proposed an alternative narrative: Kolaci was merely adjusting his pants to better accommodate his male encumbrance. If anyone was being licentious, the argument went, it was Richardson, who decided to tape a man's protuberance.


“The fact that Mr. Kolaci may have a big penis that this woman was enamored with from sitting across from him does not make him guilty of a crime,” said defense attorney Carey London. “This is someone minding his own business who happens to have a penis.”


That argument didn't appear to sway the judge, Elizabeth Warin. She did, however, concede that the prosecution may have over-reached, and that Kolaci's act wasn't overtly sexual.


“The judge indicated she did not credit his defense but didn’t find his conduct lewd enough,” an anonymous source ​told The Daily News.


For New Yorkers, public masturbation is a growing scourge. A recent police report ​indicates that 376 cases have been reported in 2017, a 27 percent rise from the year before, and almost 100 percent increase from 2012.


On the other hand, the criminal justice system tends to punish men more harshly than women. Some contend that women deserve greater leniency because they are more likely to be low-level criminals, coerced into crime by men, and traumatized by physical or sexual abuse. They also need to be free to raise their children, the argument goes.


However, there is a ​growing sense in ​some quarters that men are being vilified, and held to a higher standard than women in the ​#MeToo era.


​Adaam James is a co-founder and senior editor at Pluralist. You can argue with him on ​Twitter.

Cover image: NYPD