Sometimes, it’s not obvious a law is needed until a situation presents itself outlining a glaring hole.
That’s exactly what’s happened in rural Crook County, where a nudist refuses to wear clothing in public when picking up his mail at a rural mailbox center. On one occasion, when asked to put on clothes, the man responded by bending over and spreading his buttocks, said House Majority Floor Leader state Rep. Chip Neiman, R-Hulett.
“It was full-on intimidation,” Neiman said of the nudist’s response. “He’s using his nudity to intimidate his neighbors.”
Neiman said the man also has a spouse who practices nudity, a lifestyle he said he has no problem with as long as it happens on their private property.
Not In Law
Although Wyoming law addresses public indecency, it only extends to the exposure of people’s private parts with an intent of arousing sexual desire for themselves or another person. There’s nothing in the books about if that exposure is for the purpose of intimidation or harassment.
That’s what prompted Neiman to propose legislation to make flashing or the exposing of oneself to intimidate others illegal, something he considers equally “gross” and “foul.”
“Come on people, let’s act like grown-ups can we?” he said.
House Bill 51 would make an act like that by the Crook County nudist a prosecutable offense if it can be proven the exposure was an intent to intimidate or harass.
Co-sponsoring the bill with Neiman is Senate President Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower.
Is It Necessary?
Neiman said Crook County Attorney Joseph Baron supports the proposed legislation, as it would provide clarification to current law and more of a “legal leg” for prosecutors to stand on to bring charges for incidents like what happened with the nudist.
“It should just give a better definition of trying to intimidate someone in that way that it would provide protection for the person that’s being intimidated,” Neiman said.
Many Wyoming municipalities have stricter public indecency laws than what’s in place at the state level.
Last August, Cheyenne police charged a woman with public indecency after she had been reported walking naked in a busy commercial area. Authorities found her looking in a dumpster while wearing nothing but a blanket.
But in 2016, the Cheyenne City Council voted to remove an 1874 law that prohibited the wearing of indecent attire in public.
Neiman’s bill is geared toward rural areas outside of incorporated jurisdiction.
He mentioned how children are often sent to get their family’s mail at the rural mailbox location in Crook County. Neiman worries that if left unchecked, children may be exposed to the nudist’s male body parts.
“I would really hate to have my grandkids or somebody’s grandkids go to pick up their mail and just see that,” he said.
In the upcoming budget session, any non-budget bill requires a two-thirds vote of approval for introduction.
Neiman admits his bill is prompted by a highly localized issue that rarely comes up. If it were up to him, he said there would be no non-budgetary bills discussed during a budget session.
But since that’s not the case, he believes some consideration should be given to the people who have to engage with the Crook County nudist.
“It matters to them,” he said. “Those are the folks that I have to try to reflect their needs or wants.”
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.