Published May 11, 2013
PITTSBURGH – A Carnegie Mellon University student was charged Friday with indecent exposure by campus police after a Catholic bishop complained about her parading nude from the waist down while dressed as the pope.
A male student who was nude also was charged, but it wasn't immediately clear what he was doing during the Pittsburgh school's spring fine arts parade last month.
CMU President Jared Cohon said Friday that the misdemeanor charges were filed in Allegheny County against the two students and the school would not take any additional disciplinary action. He said the school endorses artistic expression but public nudity is illegal.
"There are competing values at issue here: Carnegie Mellon aims to be a place where ideas can be expressed and debated openly, but also where people of all backgrounds, faiths, and beliefs feel welcomed and supported," Cohon said.
Bishop David Zubik of the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese complained after the April 18 parade, in which the female student — with her pubic hair shaved in the shape of a cross — threw condoms to onlookers. Cohon apologized last week for the display.
The university did not identify the two students. Court records show students Katherine B. O'Connor, 19, of Pittsburgh, and Robb S. Godshaw, 22, of Wilmette, Ill., were charged by campus police with indecent exposure. No attorney was listed for either.
Neither O'Connor nor Godshaw responded to requests for comment from The Associated Press. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said Godshaw emailed the newspaper: "On the advice of counsel, neither myself nor fellow nude artist are giving comments at this time."
A preliminary hearing was scheduled for June 10.
Zubik said in a statement Friday that CMU treated "this unfortunate incident" seriously.
"Dialogue, disagreements and even demonstrations must be conducted in an atmosphere of decency," Zubik said. "I hope that all of us — including the students involved — can learn and grow from this very important lesson."