NEWS- Diddler on the roof: X-rated tryst shocks Mall workers

Tevye would not have approved of this rooftop activity.

The former First Christian Church at the corner of First and Market Streets downtown has a long history as a place of joyful worship. But two people used the church's fire escape to access rooftops along the Downtown Mall last week to engage in a decidedly different kind of joyful hi-jinx.

"They were naked as how they came into this world," laughs Wayne Lawhorne of T&N Printing. He spotted the amorous pair on a nearby rooftop as he was making a delivery to the LeClair Ryan law firm on the eighth floor of the Wachovia building Wednesday morning, August 22, at around 10am.

Lawhorne wasn't the only witness.

"You want the naked truth?" jokes Robert Yates, a LeClair Ryan attorney whose eighth-floor office window faces west. "They were doing some undercover work, without the covers."

Yates says he and his officemates were stunned, though somewhat amused, by the sight of the couple, who'd set up a boudoir of sorts using cushions and blankets. A floor down from LeClair Ryan, Yates says, the view was just as clear. "We could hear people laughing just outside the elevator doors on the seventh floor," he says.

The incident may have drawn laughs, but a complaint anonymously called in from the Wachovia building also brought the police.

Charlottesville Police Officer Hiawatha Green rode up to Wachovia's eighth floor following the report of indecent exposure and says he too was stunned by the audacity of the midmorning public coupling. At first Green couldn't figure out how to access the roof of 111 West Main Street, one building west of Miller's, but he soon discovered a church fire escape on that building's west side near Market Street. He made his way up and climbed over some low walls where he discovered the couple already dressed and packing up.

The pair– train hoppers who travel from city to city aboard freight trains and who offered no identification– were not particularly apologetic for their display, Green says. They announced their plans to leave for Baltimore that day.

"There's a time and a place for things," says Green. "That was not it." He dismissed the couple with a warning about inappropriate behavior. 

Charlottesville city spokesperson Ric Barrick says police get frequent calls for indecent exposure, several of them in response to couples having sex in cemeteries around the city. Last week's incident, however, was a first for a downtown rooftop, he says.

According to Charlottesville Police Sgt. Rick Hudson, the couple could have been charged with indecent exposure– a class-one misdemeanor that covers anything from public urination to flashing– since they were in "public view." But Green says their distance from the Wachovia building, the fact they didn't realize they could be seen, and the fact that the person who made the complaint didn't want to give his or her name led him to issue only a warning. Green says he now rides up the Wachovia elevator daily to check for rooftop interlopers.

The church– which is currently owned by Hollywood director Tom Shadyac to become a community center for the homeless as well as a performance venue– won't provide convenient rooftop access for long. According to a spokesperson for Hale & White, the contractors working on the church, the fire escape will be modified in the near future so that it cannot be accessed from the ground.

And  Barrick cautions anyone thinking about mimicking the daring duo, who had to cross a narrow three-story precipice to get to the open-air boudoir.

"They might have been having safe sex," he says, "but there was nothing safe about it."

This fire escape is also the path to the "three-story-high club."