Topless woman sparks debate over indecency laws in Minnesota

DULUTH, MN (WPVI) -- A woman is raising questions about a state law she calls ambiguous when it comes to defining "indecent exposure."

Michelle Bennett has been sunbathing topless at Park Point Beach in Duluth, Minnesota for two years, and says she never had problems until last month.

That's apparently when a woman told Bennett she was making her children uncomfortable.

When Bennett declined to put her top back on, the woman called police.

But officers didn't know if they could arrest her.

Bennett in turn referred police to the state law that says a person can't publicly expose themselves, but that same law doesn't say if a woman's chest falls in that category.

A seperate Minnesota law says nudity does include a woman's chest, but is only considered illegal if one is presenting to an audience, which Bennett says she was not doing.

"I wasn't being lewd, I was just laying in the sun, minding my own business. In the end, they really couldn't establish if I was breaking a law because of that ambiguous language," Bennett says.

Police say because the laws are so vague, each situation is determined by how much of a disturbance it's causing.

Bennett is hoping the city will make the law more clear so she doesn't run into this again.
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