Bad News for Woman Charged for Being Topless in Her House

Judge rejects Tilli Buchanan's challenge
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2020 10:55 AM CST
Setback for Woman Charged for Being Topless in Her House
Tilli Buchanan smiles as she leaves court on Nov. 19, 2019, in Salt Lake City.   (Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

The Utah woman charged with lewd conduct after her three stepchildren saw her topless tried to have her case dismissed and the state's topless ban tossed, but this week a judge rejected that challenge. Tilli Buchanan's lawyers argued it's discriminatory for women to be barred from going topless when men are allowed to, and they noted that in Buchanan's case, her husband was also topless but wasn't charged. (Buchanan says they'd just installed insulation and had stripped off their itchy clothes, but prosecutors tell a different story, saying Buchanan had been drinking and stripped down in front of the kids to make a point.) They cited a 10th Circuit Court ruling that sided with two women who are fighting against a Colorado city's ban on female toplessness. But 3rd District Judge Kara Pettit said those two statutes are "significantly different," the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

The Colorado ordinance only outlawed women from publicly exposing their breasts and included no language related to men, didn't involve children, and didn't have any requirement of intent or mental state, the Deseret News reports. The Utah statute, on the other hand, prohibits lewd behavior in front of children by both men and women when the defendant has one of several specific intentions, including the knowledge that they are going to cause the kids "affront or alarm." Prosecutors, meanwhile, argued the Utah statute is based on what society considers nudity, and Pettit said that was fair and that it's up to the legislature, not the court, to decide what such community standards are. Buchanan, 28, could appeal; if she doesn't, the case will move toward a trial. (See more on the original incident here.)

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