On Tuesday, attorneys for a Utah woman who “considers herself a feminist” and was charged in February with with three counts of misdemeanor lewdness after going bare-breasted in front of her stepchildren, asked a judge to dismiss the charges and change a Utah law, as The Salt Lake Tribune reported. If Tilli Buchanan, who was bare-breasted in front of children ranging from nine to 13 years old, is convicted of the charge, she could be required to register as a sex offender for 10 years.
Buchanan’s attorneys contend that the Utah law under which Buchanan is charged is unjust because it views men and women who go bare-chested differently, as Buchanan’s husband had joined her to strip down after installing insulation in their garage and he was not charged with a crime.
ACLU of Utah attorney Leah Farrell stated, “In the statute, there’s one part of it that says this part of a woman is found inherently obscene and this part of a man isn’t. That really sets up an unequal and unfair dichotomy. And Tilli’s case is something none of us would expect to happen to us.” She argued that the law, which avers that it is illegal to expose your breasts privately if a child would suffer “affront or alarm,” would require women to perform a “mental calculation” as to whether their actions would cause alarm, adding that a man would not have to do so. She concluded, “It’s unfair to take stereotypes and create an unequal burden on women.”
Randy Richards, Buchanan’s defense attorney, warned, “If we lose this, she’s on the sex offender registry with child rapists and things of that nature. The magnitude of the penalty on this is enormous.”
NBC News added that supporters of the Free the Nipple campaign “celebrated in February when the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling blocking a Fort Collins, Colorado, law against women going topless in public. The justices sided with activists who argued that the ban treated women and men differently under law.”
NBC News added, “The court has jurisdiction over federal cases from several states, including Utah, but authorities have said the ruling doesn’t immediately invalidate other local laws.” Buchanan’s attorneys stated that when Buchanan went bare-breasted in front of the children, she “explained she considers herself a feminist and wanted to make a point that everybody should be fine with walking around their house or elsewhere with skin showing.”
Buchanan was discovered to have gone bare-breasted after child welfare officials investigated an issue involving the children and their mother reportedly told the investigators that she was “alarmed.” CBS News reported, “Buchanan said she and her husband had taken off their shirts to keep their clothes from getting dusty while they worked in their garage in late 2017 or early 2018.”
Buchanan protested, “It was in the privacy of my own home. My husband was right next to me in the same exact manner that I was, and he’s not being prosecuted.”
Judge Kara Pettit said the case was “too important of an issue” to decide immediately and stated she would make a ruling later.