A court has backed criminal action against a woman accused of being topless in front of her step-children – in her own home.
Tilli Buchanan was charged under Utah’s law on lewdness involving a child after she took off her shirt while redecorating her home with her husband in Salt Lake City in late 2017 or early 2018.
Buchanan’s husband also removed his shirt to keep it clean, but was not charged because the lewdness law treats men and women differently for baring their chests.
When her husband’s three children, aged between nine and 13, walked in, she “explained she considers herself a feminist and wanted to make a point that everybody should be fine with walking around their house or elsewhere with skin showing,” her lawyers said in court documents.
The charges against her were filed after the children’s mother reported the incident to child welfare officials working on a separate investigation involving the kids.
Police said Buchanan removed her shirt and bra in front of the children while “under the influence of alcohol.”
In court this week, Jude Kara Pettit supported supported prosecutors who argued that lewdness is commonly understood to include women’s breasts in American society, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Buchanan would appeal the ruling. If she does not, her misdemeanour charges would move toward trial. If convicted, she could face jail time and be forced to register as a sex offender for 10 years.
Buchanan and the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah had pointed to a court ruling that overturned a topless ban in Colorado.
A global movement advocating for the rights of women to go topless, called the Free the Nipple campaign, has seen mixed success fighting similar ordinances in other parts of the country.
The 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a ruling that blocked a ban in Fort Collins, Colorado, on women going topless in public.
But the US Supreme Court this month left in place the conviction of three members of the Free the Nipple campaign who were arrested for going topless on a New Hampshire beach in 2016.
A public indecency law in Missouri also was upheld in 2017, and a court allowed a San Francisco public nudity ban to remain on the books in 2013.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.