Judge refuses to dismiss lewdness case against Utah woman who went topless in her own home

A judge in Utah has denied a bid by a woman accused of lewdness to have the state's law declared unconstitutional on Wednesday after her attorneys argued that the statute discriminates against women.

Tilli Buchanan, who was charged with lewdness after her stepchildren found her topless beside her husband while installing insulation in their garage. Buchanan argued that the law would not have gone into effect were her husband the only one to have been found not wearing a shirt by their children, and was therefore discriminatory.

“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," she told The Associated Press at the time.


Judge Kara Pettit disagreed, instead siding with prosecutors who argued that the law reflected society's common definition of nudity, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

“It is the prerogative of the Legislature to establish laws incorporating contemporary community standards regarding lewdness,” Pettit wrote, according to the Tribune. “It is not for the court to decide whether the Legislature’s enumeration of lewd conduct is wise or sound policy.”

Ryan Robinson, a city prosecutor with West Valley City, celebrated the judge's decision in a statement following the ruling.

"We are pleased that Judge Kara Pettit agreed with our arguments about the constitutionality of Utah's lewdness in the presence of a child statute," he wrote to the Tribune in a statement. "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.'"

Buchanan, who was reported to the police by the children's biological mother over the incident, could be forced to register as a sex offender if found guilty on any of the three charges. She could also face up to six months in jail, and a fine of $2,500.