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After Wednesday’s ruling letting Clarence Judy off the hook saying he didn’t violate the state’s public indecent exposure law when a 17-year-old girl stripped onstage at his club in SW Iowa; we see there is obviously a loophole in the current law that needs to be addressed.

He was let off because prosecutors failed to prove that the club wasn’t a theater.  The law doesn’t apply those cases.

Iowa Code 2003 Section 728.5 Public indecent exposure in certain establishments reads:

An owner, manager, or person who exercises direct control over a place of business required to obtain a sales tax permit shall be guilty of a serious misdemeanor under any of the following circumstances:

1.  If such person allows or permits the actual or simulated public performance of any sex act upon or in such place of business.

2.  If such person allows or permits the exposure of the genitals or buttocks or female breast of any person who acts as a waiter or waitress.

3.  If such person allows or permits the exposure of the genitals or female breast nipple of any person who acts as an entertainer, whether or not the owner of the place of business in which the activity is performed employs or pays any compensation to such person to perform such activity.

4.  If such person allows or permits any person to remain in or upon the place of business who exposes to public view the person’s genitals, pubic hair, or anus.

5.  If such person advertises that any activity prohibited by this section is allowed or permitted in such place of business.

6.  If such person allows or permits a minor to engage in or otherwise perform in a live act intended to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires or appeal to the prurient interests of patrons. However, if such person allows or permits a minor to participate in any act included in subsections 1 through 4, the person shall be guilty of an aggravated misdemeanor.

The provisions of this section shall not apply to a theater, concert hall, art center, museum, or similar establishment which is primarily devoted to the arts or theatrical performances and in which any of the circumstances contained in this section were permitted or allowed as part of such art exhibits or performances.  (emphasis mine)

At the very least the violation of subsection 6 comes with the highest misdemeanor charge as the violator would be charged with an aggravated misdemeanor which comes with a sentencing range of 2 years imprisonment or up to 1 year in jail and a fine of $625 to $6,250.  High enough?  That can and should be debated.  But frankly if you can actually get somebody prosecuted for having a minor strip in a strip club it doesn’t carry any teeth.

The problem is with the loophole as I mentioned before – it doesn’t “apply to a theater, concert hall, art center, museum or similar establishment which is primarily devoted to the arts or theatrical performances…”

So at face value apparently it would also be permissible for minors to perform in situations such as a nude scene for a community theater production, pose nude for an art class, and whatnot.  Is that acceptable?  Would you want your say 15-year-old daughter (or son, we’ll be equal opportunity), even willingly, participating in activities such as that?

No.  Not if you have a brain in your head.

So here is what I suggest.  Change the language in the last paragraph of this statute to say:

The provisions of subsections 1 through 5 shall not apply to a theater, concert hall, art center, museum, or similar establishment which is primarily devoted to the arts or theatrical performances and in which any of the circumstances contained in this section were permitted or allowed as part of such art exhibits or performances.

It is a simple change, but it closes the loophole.  Something else that the Legislature may want to consider is taking subsection 6 out of this section and placing it in, where I feel it really belongs, in Iowa Code 2003 728:12 Sexual exploitation of a minor and perhaps carry with it a Class D Felony charge which has a sentencing range of 5 years imprisonment and a potential fine of $750 to $7,500.  But that may be a losing battle.

At the very least this loophole needs to be closed in the current statute and it just takes four words.  If you live in Iowa, contact your legislators and tell them to protect our kids by closing the loophole in Iowa’s Public Indecent Exposure Law.  This should be a bipartisan issue.

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