The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Nudity rules up for discussion in Fredericksburg
BY ROBYN SIDERSKY
If you’ve ever had the urge to stroll down the streets of downtown Fredericksburg naked, your window to do so legally is closing.
Right now, the city code bars indecent exposure, which is public nudity with the intent to commit an obscene act.
But what if your intent was merely to be, well, naked in public?
This gap in the code was recently exposed when city police cited a man for strolling downtown sans pants. When his case got to court, it was thrown out because prosecutors could not demonstrate that he had performed or intended to perform an obscene act.
The pants-less man wasn’t approaching people in a sexual manner—he was just walking around town without pants or underwear.
The City Council will look at a proposed ordinance Tuesday that would essentially zip up that loophole by prohibiting nudity in all places that are open to the general public, regardless of intent.
“It’s just a gap in the law we thought could well be filled,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney LaBravia Jenkins.
“We don’t want people walking around town with no clothes on here, no matter what their intent is, frankly,” she said.
Right now, city code prohibits run-of-the-mill public nudity only by employees of restaurants and similar establishments, according to a memo written by Assistant City Attorney Rob Eckstrom.
The proposed ordinance would extend that ban to include “all outdoor places owned by or open to the general public, and all buildings, structures and enclosed places owned by or open to the general public .”
The ban covers nether-regions and women’s breasts—or at least urges citizens to cover them.
Exceptions are made for nursing mothers as well as dramatic productions, fine arts exhibits and the like.
Otherwise, letting it all hang out would be a class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
The City Council meets at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday in City Hall, 715 Princess Anne St.
Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413