On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

cloudy-day
41°
Drizzle
H -° L 37°
  • cloudy-day
    41°
    Current Conditions
    Drizzle. H -° L 37°
  • heavy-rain-day
    Today
    Drizzle. H -° L 37°
  • clear-day
    54°
    Tomorrow
    Mostly Clear. H 54° L 37°
Listen
Pause
Error

News on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

National
Utah woman challenges lewdness charges for going topless in front of stepkids
Close

Utah woman challenges lewdness charges for going topless in front of stepkids

She went topless in front of step kids, now woman is fighting lewdness charges

Utah woman challenges lewdness charges for going topless in front of stepkids

Tilli Buchanan and her husband were sweaty and itchy after spending the day installing insulation in their Utah garage, so they stripped off their long-sleeved shirts to cool down, according to her attorneys.

More than a year later -- though that timeline is in some dispute -- Buchanan, 27, of West Valley City, finds herself in court, fighting lewdness charges filed against her in February because her young stepchildren saw her topless.

If convicted of the three Class A misdemeanor charges against her, Buchanan could serve jail time and be forced to register as a sex offender for the next decade, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Her husband, who was also shirtless, has not been charged with a crime.

“If we are to lose this, she’s on the sex registry with child rapists and things of that nature,” her attorney, Randy Richards, told reporters. “The magnitude of the penalty on this is enormous.”

Buchanan, who is also being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, was in court for a hearing on Tuesday, at which time her attorneys argued that Utah’s lewdness act is unconstitutional because it treats men and women differently.

“What’s important to look at, to see, when you look at the statute, is there’s part of it that says this part of a woman is found inherently obscene and this part of a man isn’t,” ACLU attorney Leah Farrell told reporters after the hearing. “And that really sets up an unequal, unfair dichotomy.”

District Judge Kara Pettit declined to rule from the bench, saying “it’s too important of an issue” for an immediate judgment, the Deseret News reported. Pettit said she would hand down a decision sometime within the next two months.

According to Utah’s law against lewdness involving a child, a person can be convicted if he or she exposes his or her genitals, buttocks, anus or pubic area, or the female breast “below the top of the areola,” in front of a child.

The law applies if the person does this in public or “in a private place under circumstances the person should know will likely cause affront or alarm or with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of the actor or the child.”

Farrell said that standard is unfair to women because they have to do “mental calculus” to determine if going topless will cause alarm, while that same burden is not placed on men, the News reported.

West Valley Deputy City Attorney Corey Sherwin, who is prosecuting Buchanan’s case, told the newspaper that Utah laws do not target women, but said nudity is understood to not only include “lower parts of the body” but also the female breast. He said the lewdness statute applies only to those who intentionally expose themselves around children.

In court paperwork obtained by the Tribune, Sherwin argued that Buchanan stripped down in front of the children, boys ages 13 and 9 and a 10-year-old girl, after stating that, if her husband could go shirtless, she should be able to, as well. The documents alleged Buchanan, who Sherwin claimed was “under the influence of alcohol,” later told her husband she would only put her shirt back on if he showed her his penis, the Tribune said.

The incident took place in late 2017 or early 2018, according to prosecutors. Buchanan said, however, that it may have taken place as early as the fall of 2016.

>> Read more trending news 

The Tribune reported that authorities became involved earlier this year during a Division of Child and Family Services investigation that did not involve Buchanan. The incident came to light during that unrelated probe and the children’s mother called police, saying she was alarmed by what had happened in front of the kids.

Buchanan’s recollection of the incident differs greatly from the claims made by prosecutors.

She said that, when the children came downstairs to find her without a shirt, she used the moment as a teaching experience for her stepchildren. She said she pointed out to the children that they were not made uncomfortable by their father’s bare chest.

“This isn’t a sexual thing,” she recalled telling the children, according to the Tribune. “I should be able to wear exactly what my husband wears. You shouldn’t be embarrassed about this.”

Listen to Tilli Buchanan speak following her court hearing below, courtesy of KSL in Salt Lake City.

Richards argued earlier this year that Buchanan should not face charges for being shirtless in her own home while her husband escapes punishment or condemnation for the same behavior.

“The fact that this was in the privacy of one’s own home is real troubling,” Richards told the Tribune in September. “Different people have different moral positions as far as nudity.”

Richards’ argument has been based largely on a February opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit Court, which upheld a lower court ruling that a Fort Collins, Colorado, ordinance banning women from going topless violated their 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law.

Fox13 in Salt Lake City reported in September that the court narrowed its ruling in the case, Free the Nipple Fort Collins v. City of Fort Collins, to address solely the Fort Collins ordinance. West Valley City prosecutors cited that narrow scope during arguments in Buchanan’s case, arguing that the “Free the Nipple” ruling is more narrow than the ACLU might like.

Read the court ruling in full below.

Free the Nipple v Fort Collins by National Content Desk on Scribd

The ruling, which made headlines nationwide, is slowly making its mark on other Utah cases, however. FOX 13 reported that attorneys with clients facing lewdness charges have begun citing the appeals court ruling in their own arguments.

Buchanan said she was devastated by the criminal charges filed against her. “The moment I took to teach the kids, it was kind of smashed,” she told the Tribune. “Like you can’t teach kids this. In fact, you’re going to be charged for even bringing this up.”

After Tuesday’s hearing, Buchanan told reporters she is hopeful at least a portion of the state’s lewdness law will be struck down.

“Especially given it was in the privacy of my own home, my husband was right next to me, in the exact same manner that I was, and he’s not being prosecuted for it,” Buchanan said.

Read More

News

  • Ruiz Food Products is recalling certain El Monterey breakfast burritos for plastic contamination, officials said. >> Read more trending news  The company recalled 55,013 pounds of 12-count, value pack “El Monterey signature burritos with egg sausage and cheese with a best buy date of 1/15/2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said. Three consumers complained after noticing hard, white plastic in a burrito. There are no reports of injuries. Consumers should return or throw away the burritos if they have them.
  • The House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump Tuesday morning -- abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. >> Read more trending news  The process of marking up, debating, amending and rewriting the articles of impeachment, is expected to begin begin Wednesday by the Judiciary Committee. The charges, if approved, would then be sent to the Senate, where the Republican majority would be unlikely to convict Trump. The Associated Press contributed to this report. 
  • Crews spent Tuesday trying to rescue a manatee with a bicycle tire wrapped around its body at a Florida state park, WFTV reported. >> Read more trending news   Rescue efforts at Blue Spring State Park. were unsuccessful, but SeaWorld Orlando officials said they will continue to try to rescue the animal. If it is captured, the manatee would be taken to SeaWorld for treatment. The rescue team comprises the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, SeaWorld, the Save the Manatee Club and the Volusia County government.
  • All Saudi military trainees have been grounded indefinitely from flight training at air bases across the country after a deadly shooting by a member of the Saudi Royal Air Force at Naval Air Station Pensacola. There are 852 Saudi students across the country. More than 300 Saudi military trainees are stationed at three bases in Florida. >> Read more trending news  The restriction includes 140 students at the naval base in Pensacola; 35 at nearby Whiting Field; and another 128 students at Naval Air Station Mayport, The Associated Press reported. Classroom training will continue this week. Flight training for other students will also resume while military leaders examine the vetting process, The New York Times reported. An estimated 5,100 international students training at U.S. military installations will also be part of the review. The order is in an effort to ensure student safety as they recover from the trauma of the shooting. The Saudi shooter killed three members of the U.S. military and injured eight others before he was fatally shot. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Depending on one’s perspective, pigeons wearing tiny cowboy hats is either an amusing sight or a terrible example of animal abuse. What’s undeniable is that two pigeons were spotted in a Las Vegas parking lot, wearing the miniature head gear. >> Read more trending news  Bobby Lee was heading to the grocery store Thursday when he saw the birds pecking the ground in a parking lot near a dumpster, The New York Times reported. Pigeons are not unusual in Las Vegas, but Lee pulled out his cellphone and began recording video when he noticed two birds with tiny hats -- one red, and one gray, KNVT reported. Lee posted the video to Facebook, the television station reported. The video has gone viral on Facebook and Twitter, the television station reported. “The birds have hats on, bro!” Lee, 26, can be heard during the 12-second video he originally posted on Facebook. “It got a lot of attention fast,” Lee told the Times. “The day after, I had a lot of news people texting me and people trying to buy my video.” Who would put hats on wild birds? Lee said he did not know, but he did say the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo was in town. But the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, which organizes the event, “had nothing to do with the pigeons wearing cowboy hats,” Scott Kaniewski, the editor of ProRodeo Sports News, told the Times. Animal welfare agencies contacted Lee, including Lofty Hopes, a bird rescue organization. The group asked him to be vigilant and report if any more birds had hats, the Times reported. Charles Walcott, a Cornell University ornithologist who has been studying pigeons for 30 years, viewed the video Tuesday and said the pigeons seemed to be OK despite the headwear, the Times reported. “I enjoyed the video,' Walcott told the newspaper. 'I just thought those pigeons with hats were cute. 'I think the thing that I would emphasize is I can’t see that it is causing any great harm to the pigeons. The hats are “certainly light enough. They look like happy pigeons to me. It is hard to know, of course, because they will not talk to us.”
  • Workers at a Bed, Bath & Beyond store in North Carolina were surprised to find a 14-year-old runaway inside, police said. >> Read more trending news  According to Greenville police, the 14-year-old boy ran away from home and hid in the store overnight, WITN reported. When employees arrived to open the store about 8:30 a.m., they saw someone inside and called the police, Kristen Hunter, spokeswoman for the Greenville Police Department, told the News & Observer of Raleigh. Officers responded to the store for a “breaking and entering in progress” and found the teen, the newspaper reported. The teen, whose name was not released, was returned home safely, WRAL reported.