Iowa Seeks Review of Nude Dancing as Art Ruling

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The state attorney general's office said Monday it asked the Iowa Supreme Court to review a judge's ruling that nude dancing is a legal art form.

Assistant Attorney General Mary Tabor said the state is seeking a review of Judge Timothy O'Grady's August decision in which he ruled that a strip club was protected under a law allowing nudity in any "theater, concert hall, art center, museum or similar establishments" devoted to the arts or theatrical performances.

The state had charged Clarence Judy, then-owner of the strip club Shotgun Geniez, with violating the public indecent exposure law after a 17-year-old girl climbed on the stage and stripped off her clothes in July 2007.

"The district court found that while this was primarily a strip club, that the theater exemption still applies. We're just asking for a different interpretation of those exemptions, Tabor said.

Judy, who sold the club, can't be tried again because of double jeopardy. But if the state Supreme Court agrees to hear the case and interprets the statute differently, it could affect future cases statewide, Tabor said.

"If they have a stage and have lighting, they fall into the theater exemptions. I think minors who come into those facilities aren't protected as the Legislature envisioned that they should be," Tabor said.

When asked whether the state seeks to outlaw strip clubs altogether, Tabor would only say the state seeks a review of the lower court ruling that allowed a minor to dance nude because the club fell under the theater exception.

"We're interested in making sure the exception doesn't swallow the rule. The exception for theater and places where legitimate artistic endeavors are being undertaken, that it's not viewed so broadly that minors can dance in a strip club and have that fall under that exception," she said.

Tabor said that if the Supreme Court declines to hear the case, the Legislature could revisit the statute.

There is no timeframe for the court's decision.