March 26, 2000 10:27am
Court Says Woman Cannot Sue for Harassment
(DENVER, CO) -- A woman who exposed her breasts to police to prove she was not the person wanted for a burglary cannot sue the officers for violating her rights, a federal appeals court said Thursday.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled 3-0 against Dorothy Nelson, who had exposed her breasts when stopped for speeding in Chickasha, Oklahoma, to show officers she did not have a chest tattoo.
During the 1998 incident, a check of Nelson's driver's license by a female officer showed there was a warrant out for a female burglary suspect with the same name and birth date, and a chest tattoo as an identifying mark. The officer then insisted she needed to see if Nelson had the chest tattoo, Nelson claimed in a lawsuit.
Nelson refused to go to the police station to show she did not have the tattoo, saying she was concerned what might happen to her twin nine-year-old sons who were with her.
Instead, she exposed her breasts to the female officer and a male officer on the side of a street in mid-afternoon. Her subsequent lawsuit claimed the officers violated her right to be free from unreasonable searches and her right to privacy.
The appellate judges disagreed, saying she chose to do what she did, although the officers should have handled the situation better.