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Will judge force Utah stepmom to register as sex offender for being topless inside home?

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Tilli Buchanan Utah sex offender
Tilli Buchanan Utah sex offender?
Tilli Buchanan Utah sex offender
Tilli Buchanan Utah sex offender?

Tilli Buchanan Utah sex offender? Should a stepmother be forced register as a sexual abuse offender because she appeared topless in front of her husband’s children? 

A case of sexism? double standards? vindictiveness? Objectification? Or religious/moral posturing? 

A Utah woman is facing criminal charges that could force her to register as a sex offender after allegedly being seen topless by her stepchildren inside her own home following complaints from the children’s biological mother.

Tilli Buchanan, 28, was working with her husband in their garage in late 2017 or early 2018 when they both removed their shirts to prevent dust from getting on them, The Salt Lake Tribune, reported.

The children, ages 9 and 13, saw the couple both topless — and when their birth mother later heard about the incident, she mentioned it to child welfare officials because she was ‘alarmed,’ the Utah media outlet reported.

The stepmother was charged in February with three counts of misdemeanor lewdness involving a child. The husband faces no charges.

If convicted, the woman could be forced to register as a sex offender for 10 years.

A case of double standards? 

Appearing at a Salt Lake City court on Tuesday, Buchanan’s lawyer insisted lewdness charges against the woman be overturned.

‘If we lose this, she’s on the sex offender registry with child rapists and things of that nature,’ Buchanan’s lawyer, Randy Richards, told the Salt Lake Tribune. ‘The magnitude of the penalty on this is enormous.’

After Tuesday’s court hearing, Buchanan spoke out against what she views as a double standard regarding topless men and women.

‘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 said.

Buchanan’s attorneys are asking a judge to declare part of Utah’s lewdness law unconstitutional, arguing it treats men and women differently for the same conduct of baring their chests.

‘What’s important to look at, to see when you look at the statute, is that there’s part of it that says this part of a woman is inherently obscene and this part of a man isn’t,’ said Leah Farrell, the senior attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah who argued on Buchanan’s behalf. ‘And that really sets up an unequal, unfair dichotomy.’

Prosecutors counter that nudity is commonly understood to include women’s breasts in American society and that courts have upheld laws based on morality.

West Valley City prosecutors claim Buchanan was ‘under the influence of alcohol’ when she removed her shirt and made a comment that she would put it back on only if her husband exposed himself, the Tribune reported. But should it even matter if Buchanan had been drinking? Had she not been drinking (as it is alleged) would prosecutors have sought not to bring a case forward? 

Women’s breasts as sexual weapons: 

Buchanan’s impending case follows ever increasing debate over whether women should be allowed to be topless in public. A group called Free the Nipple has had mixed success in fighting on behalf of women who want to be treated the same as men on the issue.

Posted a recent article, ‘…A woman’s body is inherently and solely sexual and therefore must be regulated when it comes to public consumption.’

The case presents vexing definitions of what constitutes sexual offense and whether a decision to punish a woman and not a man for the same crime implies that a woman’s body has sexual overtones where as a man’s body does not? In essence negating the idea of equality of the sexes and their functions and social perceptions – even to the extent of criminalizing one gender for failing to act accordingly to ‘preferred social norms’ or hang- ups as some would wonder.

Judge Kara Pettit is expected to reach a decision in about two months. 

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