Judge upholds Utah's lewdness statute in case of topless woman in her own home
Tilli Buchanan, at right (file)

By Ben Winslow, KSTU

SALT LAKE CITY (KSTU) -- A judge has upheld Utah’s lewdness statute in a case involving a West Valley City woman facing criminal charges for baring her breasts inside her own home.

In a ruling handed down on Tuesday, the judge struck down Tilli Buchanan’s legal challenge to Utah’s lewdness statute. She asked for her case to be dismissed and a portion of the law found unconstitutional. Buchanan’s attorney and the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah cited a recent ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found anti-topless laws discriminated against women.

In her ruling, 3rd District Court Judge Kara Pettit upheld the statute.

“The Court agrees that the public indecency ordinance at issue in Free the Nipple-Fort Collins is significantly different from the lewdness involving a child law at issue in this case. The Fort Collins ordinance made it unlawful for an adult female to knowingly expose her breast below the top of the areola in a public place, or on private property if it could be viewed readily from ground level by another located on public property,” Judge Pettit wrote. “The ordinance did not include any exposure that was unlawful for a male, did not require the presence of children, and most importantly, did not require any specific intent.”

Buchanan was doing insulation work with her husband and they were stripping off itchy clothing when her step-children saw her. That ultimately led to the criminal charges being leveled against her last year. Buchanan’s attorneys argued she did nothing wrong.

In a statement, West Valley City Chief Prosecutor Ryan Robinson said they were pleased with the ruling and moving forward with the case.

“We support the court’s finding in this case that ‘the government has an important interest in enacting laws to protect the health, safety, welfare, and morality of children, and to prevent them from being exposed to lewdness,'” he wrote.

MORE: Judge upholds Utah’s lewdness statute in case involving topless woman inside her own home - KSTU