Utah Judge Kara Pettit sided with prosecutors who said “lewdness” means women’s breasts.
In the Mormon-controlled quasi theocratic state of Utah today, a judge refused to overturn part of our state’s lewdness law Tuesday, dealing another publicly humiliating blow to a woman who is fighting criminal charges for being topless in her own home.
Mom Tilli Buchanan was charged after she and her husband removed their shirts to avoid dirtying their clothes while they hung drywall in their garage in a Salt Lake City suburb a few years ago.
Charges against her were filed when her stepchildren’s bio-mom reported her to child welfare officials who had been working on a separate investigation involving the children.
The Salt Lake Tribune’s Jessica Miller reports that Utah Judge Kara Pettit sided with prosecutors who said “lewdness” means women’s breasts. Women’s breasts are lewd.
Judges can’t second-guess what lawmakers have already decided is lewd, and breasts are lewd, she argued.
From the Associated Press:
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Tilli Buchanan would appeal the ruling. If she does not, her misdemeanor charges would move toward trial. If convicted, she could face jail time and be forced to register as a sex offender for 10 years.
Buchanan and the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah had pointed to a court ruling that overturned a topless ban in Colorado and helped fuel a movement. They said Utah’s law on lewdness involving a child is unfair because it treats men and women differently for baring their chests.
A global movement advocating for the rights of women to go topless, called the Free the Nipple campaign, has seen mixed success fighting similar ordinances in other parts of the country.