Sapulpa City Attorney says the new “topless” ruling will not affect local statutes

Sapulpa's ordinances on the matter do not discriminate based on gender, therefore complaints could be filed on men or women.

City Attorney David Widdoes says that the new “topless law” will have little effect on state and city ordinances and that complaints would be handled “on a case-by-case basis, as they’ve always been,” he told Sapulpa Times on Wednesday afternoon.

The controversial 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that has made it possible for women to be topless in public, has been a hot topic since it was passed last week. Tulsa’s response was initially to move forward with the change—as evidenced by a Topless Trail Skate in Tulsa on Sunday evening—but then changed tune when Attorney General Mike Hunter came forth and said that the law “does not change local and state laws in Oklahoma on the subject.”

“When the attorney general of the state of Oklahoma tells you that state law still applies, then I take that very seriously,” Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum had said, according to the Tulsa World on Monday. “So we will continue to enforce state law based on that guidance from the AG.”

Tuesday, Sand Springs Police Chief Mike Carter said that they would not be arresting women going topless, so long as “the conduct is not done with the intent of being obscene or sexual in nature,” he said in a story by the Sand Springs Leader.

So what would happen in Sapulpa, if we had an incident similar to what happened in Tulsa—say a group of women decided to go topless rollerskating in Kelly Lane Park?

“It would depend on the circumstances,” Widdoes said. “Who else is in the park with them, whether someone files a complaint. Our code is not changed by the 10th circuit—we’re going to continue to enforce our codes.”

Widdoes also says that because the City Statutes do not discriminate based on gender, the same complaint could be filed towards a group of topless rollerskating men.

Sapulpa City Ordinance 10-510 reads as follows: It is unlawful for any person to:

  • A. Appear in any public place in the City in a state of nudity;
  • B. Appear in any public place in the City in any offensive, indecent or lewd dress; or
  • C. Make an indecent public exposure of his or her person.

The ordinance is based on Oklahoma State Statute 21 O.S. Sec. 1021, which states “Lewdly exposes his or her person or genitals in any public place, or in any place where there are present other persons to be offended or annoyed thereby.”

Widdoes said he doesn’t expect it to be a big deal locally. “We’ve not had much of a problem before, and I don’t think we’re going to have a problem, now,” he said, adding that it’s largely been that way because of courtesy. “Even people who believe it’s their right, won’t do it if they see that it’s going to offend someone else; they don’t want to cause problems.”

Widdoes said that the City Attorney’s office is investigating in conjunction with the DA’s office, and will be discussing with City Council about any changes that need to be made to the local ordinances.

The 10th Circuit Court ruling addressed a Fort Collins, Colorado city ordinance that prohibited women from going topless in public after two women sued the city in 2016 and argued that the rule violated their equal protection rights. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has jurisdiction over federal cases in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Kansas, and Oklahoma,

About the Author

Micah is the owner/Editor-In-Chief of Sapulpa Times and passionate about telling the everyday stories in the town that we love. You can find him on Twitter at @meetmicah or email him at news@sapulpatimes.com.

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