ACLU wants change in public nudity laws
April 26, 2009
BOULDER ” The American Civil Liberties Union is lobbying for changes to state law to prevent streakers from being classified as sex offenders.
The move follows the arrests of a dozen people who ran naked down Boulder’s pedestrian mall last Halloween and faced having to register as sex offenders if convicted. The 12 ticketed during the Naked Pumpkin Run faced indecent exposure charges, but most pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.
More than 100 people took part in the Halloween tradition, which involves carving pumpkins and a late-night run by participants who wear nothing but pumpkins on their heads.
Also last year, more than 60 cyclists biked bare in Boulder to protest oil-burning cars.
The ACLU is hosting a public forum called “Naked in Boulder” at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Wolf Law Building on the University of Colorado campus to discuss whether streakers, naked cyclists and others should be treated as protesters and pranksters or criminals and sex offenders.
“We are very concerned about the way in which the Colorado sex-offender registry is set up, resulting in sex-offender status for these kinds of activities,” said Judd Golden, who heads the Boulder County chapter of the ACLU.
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Indecent exposure applies when people who have bared their genitals in a way likely to upset someone, and public indecency applies to someone who had sex, masturbated or lewdly exposed their body in public.
Both charges, typically misdemeanors, have been filed for similar offenses. But indecent exposure carries the harsher penalty of having to register as a sex offender.
“Prosecutors end up charging people with offenses that don’t really fit in order to avoid some of these absurd consequences,” said state Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder.
Levy said while it makes sense for some people convicted of indecent exposure to be registered as sex offenders, allowing more judicial discretion could be a good thing.
“You need to have somebody that says they would have been alarmed or affronted,” Andy Schmidt, a lawyer for one of the pumpkin runners, said about indecent exposure. “In this situation, that was not going to happen.”
Schmidt’s client, Ty Tuff, was the only runner who didn’t take a plea deal and eventually had all of his charges dropped.
Information from: Daily Camera, http://www.dailycamera.com/