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article imageWoman wins in court for going topless in New York City

By Chris V. Thangham     Jun 18, 2007 in Crime
Jill Coccaro went topless in New York City, an officer arrested her while she was strolling in Delancey Street. She sued the city and the officers and won the case for having the legal right to go topless.
Who knew it was legal for a woman to walk around with her breasts exposed in New York?
Jill Coccaro, 27 year old East Village artist did and the cop didn’t and she has forced the city to pay her $29,000 legal settlement for arresting her when she lawfully bared her bosom and went for a stroll two years ago.
Jill Coccaro calls herself Phoenix Feeley, went topless on August 4, 2005 when she pulled down the front of her painter’s jumpsuit during an art show promotion to cool off.
A cop spotted Feeley strolling topless on Delancey Street, and asked her to cover up. But Feeley refused informing the cop instead that she had a legal right to be naked to the waist like a man. The officer immediately arrested her for indecent exposure.
In 1992 a state appeals court ruled that if men could expose their chests in public, women also could do the same without being punished.
In 2003, high-profile lawyer Ron Kuby had used the law change to win a $10,000 settlement from the city for a model who'd been busted wearing a thong and body paint to the Coney Island Mermaid Parade.
Feeley said when she was arrested she did not do anything to provoke anyone on the street, she did not harm anyone and also she did not resist being arrested. She remained in custody for 12 hours before the officer told her the District Attorney’s Office had declined to press charges against her.
Feeley claims when she was detained, an officer yanked her from the patrol car by her hair and also took her to Bellevue Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation and cops refused to repair her badly ripped jumpsuit.
I was asking not to walk around in my underwear and they were not helping me with that," she said. "By the end of the night I walked out with my shirt off and my pants on."
Because of this arrest she missed a family court appearance involving her ex-husband and also came a day before her young daughter’s birthday.
Feeley said she has gone bare-breasted before after running the 2004 New York City Marathon, and cops didn’t bother her at that time.
I've always just felt that was something natural," Feeley said of baring her breasts. "I've kind of always done it out of practicality."
She sued the New York City and the arresting officers last October. The City agreed to settle instead without admitting their fault on June 4. She said she deserves this settlement for the arrest.
"The thing the cop did not seem to understand, and what's so problematic, was that it was Phoenix who would decide what parts of her body would be exposed," said her attorney, Jeffrey Rothman.
Since it is legal in New York city, she had the right to do, if she has no problems walking around and being looked upon then it doesn’t matter what our opinion is. Lensman wouldn’t mind. But do you mind about this law and if enforced in other cities?
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