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Wanting to get some sun and an even tan, Michelle Bennett removed her top as she visited the Park Point beach with some friends on June It wasn't long, she said, before another woman approached her, asking her to cover up. The woman, who Bennett estimated to 60 or 70 feet away with her family, said her kids were uncomfortable.
Bennett's story, which she later shared on social media, set off a debate over the legality of women going topless on Minnesota beaches and other public spaces. Bennett ultimately covered up, and was not arrested or cited. She contended state law does not prohibit the practice. Police spokeswoman Ingrid Hornibrook also confirmed that Bennett was not cited, but maintained that it remains illegal for women to be topless in public. She noted that a different statute defines nudity as including a woman's breasts.
Hornibrook said officers occasionally receive similar complaints, with two citations issued last year. Should it be legal for women to go topless on Minnesota beaches? Yes No View Thank you for voting! Under state statute, a person is guilty of indecent exposure when he or she "willfully and lewdly exposes the person's body, or the private parts thereof. But the statute does not specify what lawmakers viewed as "private parts. Bennett said she has routinely gone topless at Park Point over the past several years, but never before had the police called on her.
She said there was nothing lewd or obscene about her behavior, and said she was left feeling as though her "body was being policed. Topless sunbathing apparently is not a crime in any of Minnesota's neighboring states, including Wisconsin, where the state's obscenity law specifically applies only to the "genitals and pubic area.
The website GoTopless. Most states allow women to go topless, the site reports, with only three having a clear ban. Prior cases have drawn public attention. In Minneapolis, a year-old woman was arrested for going topless at a Minnesota United soccer game in However, the Minneapolis City Attorney's Office later dropped the gross misdemeanor charge of indecent exposure, citing "prosecutorial discretion," according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The fact that Bennett was not issued a citation should not be taken as a that the practice is legal, Hornibrook said. Officers often use discretion in those situations, she said. But Bennett said the issue amounts to a clear double standard between men and women, and noted that the law could be particularly ambiguous when applied in cases involving transgender people. She said she'd like to receive a clear assurance that no one would be arrested or prosecuted for going topless. That, however, would appear unlikely unless there is a successful legal challenge or legislative act further defining indecent exposure.
Trending Articles. Crime and Courts. Crime and Courts Duluth woman's story prompts debate over going topless in public A woman's decision to go topless on Park Point led to police intervention. But was she breaking the law? Written By: Tom Olsen pm, Jul. The beach on Park Point is a popular place to beat the heat on warm summer days in Duluth.
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Duluth woman's story prompts debate over going topless in public