Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Topless Utah Stepmom Pleads Guilty To Avoid Sex Offender Registry

By Zuri Davis - February 26, 2020 at 03:00PM

Faced with the possibility of being placed on a sex offender registry for 10 years, Utah's Tilli Buchanan has instead pleaded guilty to lesser charges after being prosecuted for appearing topless in front of her stepchildren. 

As Reason previously reported, the West Valley City stepmom was accused of purposefully baring her breasts to her stepchildren inside her home. Buchanan maintains that she and her husband removed their itchy clothing after installing insulation in their garage. When the children walked downstairs and saw them shirtless, Buchanan says that she tried to ease their embarrassment by explaining that her toplessness was not inherently sexual.

Prosecutors claimed in court that Buchanan purposefully stripped in front of the children while under the influence of alcohol and told her husband she'd only put her clothes back on if she saw his penis. The children's biological mother said news of the incident "alarmed" her enough to file a report with the Division of Child and Family Services. Prosecutors decided to pursue the case, even though they were unable to corroborate important parts of the story, such as the date of the incident.

Buchanan was charged with three misdemeanor counts of lewdness involving a child. Her husband escaped charges as Utah's lewdness statute defines lewdness as the exposure of "genitals, the female breast below the top of the areola, the buttocks, the anus, or the pubic area." If convicted, Buchanan risked having her name added to a sex offender registry for 10 years.

The American Civil Liberties Union challenged the statute. It argued that the inclusion of the female breast was discrimination based on gender and sexuality, a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Utah Third District Judge Kara Pettit rejected that argument in January.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported on Tuesday that Buchanan, in order to avoid the sex offender registry, has pleaded guilty to one class B misdemeanor lewdness charge. The charge will be dismissed if Buchanan remains out of trouble for a year and pays $600.

Prosecutors maintain they were in the right. 

"This case has never been about nudity in one's home. Instead, it is about the responsibility we have towards others," West Valley City Attorney Ryan Robinson told the Tribune. She said the case was resolved "when Ms. Buchanan took responsibility for her actions."

The next time Buchanan thinks to undress within the privacy of her own home, the threat of being placed on an inconsistent and overzealous registry will surely remind her of that responsibility. 

from Reason Magazine Articles