Montana Republican Proposes More Encompassing Indecent Exposure Bill

| by Kendal Mitchell

A Republican state legislator from Montana proposed a bill to strengthen the state’s indecent exposure laws on Feb. 10.

Rep. David Moore said he introduced House Bill 365 in response to people participating in a naked bicycling event in Missoula, Montana, last summer.

Under the new proposal, the parameters of what is considered indecent exposure would include any nipple exposure, for both men and women, and any article of clothing that "gives the appearance or simulates" a person’s buttocks, genitals, pelvic area or female nipple.

Moore said the law would allow law enforcement to use discretion when deciding whether to enforce the proposed measure. He added he does not know whether police would use their best judgment or if residents would challenge the law.

“I don’t have a crystal ball,” Moore said.

Last August, bicyclists a part of the Bare As You Dare event, a clothing-optional protest rally, rode through Missoula, angering residents with their nudity.

City officials said they allowed the participants to ride through the city because they feared the cyclists would sue the city for violating their free speech.

While public nudity is illegal in Montana, Bare As You Dare organizers said they could use public roads for the event.

Some Montana residents said they were angered by the Bare As You Dare ride because they think it linked their state with lewd behavior.

“I want Montana to be known as a decent state where people can live within the security of laws and protect their children and associates from degrading and indecent practices,” said Walt Hill, co-author of the bill.

If passed, the bill reduces the amount of time in jail and fines for a person convicted of indecent exposure three times. Currently, someone with three indecent exposure convictions could be sentenced to life in prison and pay up to a $10,000 fine. House Bill 365 would reduce the time up to five years in jail and a $5,000 fine. 

Source: As Bare As You Dare, Billings Gazette Photo Credit: Montana Environmental Information Center