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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Naked dance by sheriff's teen niece could close 'performing art' loophole

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Iowa doesn't have any all-nude strip clubs.

Instead, it has performing arts centers where women dance naked.

Now a loophole in the state's public indecent exposure law that allows nude dancing at "art centers" is under attack in the small community of Hamburg, a town of 1,200 just across the Missouri River from Nebraska.

The case pending before a Fremont County judge effects only one business in Hamburg, but if he agrees with the prosecutor, nude dancing clubs across the state could find their legal standing threatened.

It all began on July 21, 2007, at Shotgun Geniez in Hamburg, where sheriff Steven MacDonald's 17-year-old niece climbed up on stage and stripped off her clothing. Owner Clarence Judy was charged with violating Iowa's public indecent exposure law.

Judy responded that the law doesn't apply to a "theater, concert hall, art center, museum, or similar establishments" devoted to the arts or theatrical performances.

"Dance has been considered one of the arts, as is sculpture, painting and anything else like that. What Clarence has is a club where people can come and perform," said Michael Murphy, Judy's attorney.

Murphy also noted that the club has a gallery selling collectible posters and other art. And it provides patrons with sketch pads.

Fremont County Attorney Margaret Johnson said it's all nonsense.

The fact is, an underage girl danced naked at the club, and that's illegal, she argued.

"Are you saying that minors can't be protected? Can a group of 12-year-olds come down and go in and dance nude and it's OK? I don't think that's what the Legislature had in mind when it made those additional provisions," Johnson said.

Arguments in the case were made during a one-day trial on July 17. Johnson said the intent of the law is to allow movies in a theater where there's brief nudity or for an art gallery displaying paintings of nudes.

Since turning 18, Murphy said she's returned to the club and danced nude.

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