Salt Lake City, UT – A woman who is fighting criminal charges because her stepchildren saw her topless in her own home suffered a setback when a judge did not overturn part of Utah’s lewdness law on Tuesday.
Tilli Buchanan said she was installing insulation with her husband in the garage that day, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
The couple had stripped off their clothes inside their home because the insulation was causing them to itch. Buchanan was topless when her step children came downstairs and saw her.
The police became involved because the Division of Child and Family Services started an investigation involving the children that didn’t involve Buchanan.
Originally, the topless incident was not the focus of the investigation. That changed, however, the children’s mother said she was “alarmed” and reported the topless incident to state investigators.
District Judge Kara Pettit rejected Buchanan’s motion to declare the lewdness statute as unconstitutional, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. Pettit’s legal argument was that the law discriminates against women being topless but doesn’t hold men to the same legal standard. Her attorneys noted that Pettit’s husband was also topless when her step children walked in.
Pettit stated that the Utah law prohibits lewd behavior by both men and women in front of children. The law also requires prosecutors show that the defendant knew their actions would cause “affront or alarm,” The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Her lawyers explained in court documents that “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.”
“It is the prerogative of the Legislature to establish laws incorporating contemporary community standards regarding lewdness,” the judge wrote, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. “It is not for the court to decide whether the Legislature’s enumeration of lewd conduct is wise or sound policy.”
City Prosecutor Ryan Robinson agreed with the judge’s ruling.
“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,’ ” Robinson said, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.