Bend, Oregon
A nude bicyclist makes a nude appearance in court

December, 2001

   When Terri Sue Webb chose to ride her bicycle nude through the streets of Bend, Oregon, on July 18, 2001, she didn't engage in fighting or in violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior. She didn't make unreasonable noise or disturb any lawful assembly of persons.

  FEB 19, 2003

The Court of Appeals of the State of Oregon has REVERSED the commitment order that allowed a judge in May, 2002 to confine Terri Webb to a psychiatric facility for her choice to be nude.

Click here to see the text of the reversal.

   At no time did she obstruct vehicular or pedestrian traffic, nor did she ever congregate with other persons in a public place and subsequently refuse to comply with a lawful order of the police to disperse. She didn't  initiate or circulate a report concerning an alleged or impending fire, explosion, crime, catastrophe or other emergency, and she never created a hazardous or physically offensive condition.

In short, she didn't do anything at all that's prohibited under the Oregon disorderly conduct law.
[Click here to view the exact wording of the statute.]

The point is not that Terri Webb is always nude - or that she insists that others must choose to be nude. Neither is true. However, Webb feels strongly that an individual should have the freedom to select what covers (or perhaps doesn't cover) her own body.

But because she was nude - and for no other reason - Terri Webb found herself charged with disorderly conduct, a Class B misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 6 months in prison and a $2,000 fine.

The State of Oregon, through Deschutes County prosecuting attorney James Monsebroten, has said that Webb's nudity "obstructed traffic" and "caused much alarm." However, when asked to elaborate on his notion of how Webb's bicycle riding fits the charge of disorderly conduct, Monsebroten has declined.

The Trial, part I

Nudist defenders of the status quo will surely wince at the next part of the story. The charge of disorderly conduct required an appearance in court. Terri Webb, firmly and honestly believing that her nudity was neither disorderly nor disrespectful, chose to appear nude at her court date on November 7, 2001.

Judge Barbara Haslinger commanded Webb to dress, and when she did not comply, the judge ordered her immediate arrest, sentencing her to a year of supervised probation for contempt and ordering that she undergo a psychiatric examination.

The circumstances of Webb's bicycle ride and her subsequent court appearance have drawn widespread media and public attention to the case. Some of the reporting has been supportive, some has not.

In an example of the latter, Court TV, the noted commercial purveyor of Justice as Entertainment, pulled its hypocritical finger out of the till just long enough to wag it at Webb, classifying her case among what they call "Stupid Crimes and Misdemeanors."

Terri Webb intends to fight the initial charge of disorderly conduct and to appeal the contempt declaration. Webb has said that her right to a fair trial on the initial charge has already been denied, pointing out that declaring nakedness as unacceptable in the court prior to the admission of evidence reflects a prejudgment concerning the issue at hand. She also challenges the court's presumption that a demonstrated preference for nudity is a sign of a mental disorder.

The Trial, part II

Terri Webb was initially scheduled to court in Deschutes County on Wednesday, January 23, 2002.

   NUDITY, NAC, AND THE STATUS QUO

The Naturist Action Committee is aware that some nudists and some nudist organizations are quite comfortably engaged in a vigorous pursuit of the status quo. The problem with that posture is that, by definition, things never get any better. The most one can hope is that they don't get any worse.

Distressingly, a significant part of the status quo in North America is the official trivialization and marginalization of naturists. Under the status quo, lawmakers, courts and bureaucrats have given naturist issues extremely low priority - when they've bothered to consider them at all!

NAC does not endorse the type of standing in place that results in the perpetuation of ignorance, intolerance and body shame and the persecution of those whose "crime" is a sincere incorporation of nudity into their right of self-determination

The mission of the Naturist Action Committee is to advance and protect the rights of naturists throughout North America. NAC will not abandon traditional means of achieving those goals. Nor does NAC suggest that every action claiming to promote nudity is worthy of support.

However, NAC understands that advances can never take place unless the envelope is expanded. And it's inevitable that those who push the limits of the envelope will make some people uncomfortable.

Just as there are always those who will say certain activists have gone too far, others will claim that no one ever goes far enough. Effective activism, including naturist activism, involves an element of risk, balanced with a sense of well chosen battles. Though NAC continually seeks such a balance, let it be well understood by friend and foe alike that the Naturist Action Committee does not seek simply to maintain the status quo.

The original trial date was scrubbed in mid December. The new date and time are May 2, 2002 at 9:30 a.m.

Perhaps Terri will appear nude, as she did before, or perhaps she believes that her point is already made. Webb has not given any indication of what she intends. Regardless, she has promised to continue to assert her right to self-determination, through the legal system, as well as through personal example.

Please see the Naturist Action Committee Advisory, below.

As attorney Alana Brenneman looks on, Terri Sue Webb (right) addresses Judge Barbara Haslinger in a Deschutes County courtroom on November 7, 2001.

Naturist Action Committee ADVISORY - December 12, 2001

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                     NATURIST ACTION COMMITTEE
                               ADVISORY
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                 http://www.naturistsociety.com/NAC/
**********************************************************************

DATE   : December 12, 2001
SUBJECT: Oregon nudity trial
STATE  : OREGON
TO     : All naturists

This past July, Terri Sue Webb was arrested in Bend, Oregon for the "crime" of having chosen to ride her bicycle while nude. Although the activity does not actually appear to rise to the level of an offense under Oregon state law, Webb was charged with disorderly conduct.

The case gained notoriety when Webb further asserted her right to determine her own personal dress code by choosing to be nude at her initial appearance in Deschutes County court on November 7. Judge Barbara Haslinger instructed police to arrest Webb for contempt and then sentenced her to a year of probation and ordered her to undergo psychiatric testing.

Terri Webb has chosen an unconventional way of seeking to incorporate nudity into her right of self-determination, but it is that departure from the ordinary that makes the case interesting and perhaps significant. Webb has said that her right to a fair trial on the initial charge has already been denied, pointing out that declaring nakedness as unacceptable in the court prior to the admission of evidence reflects a prejudgment concerning the issue at hand. She also challenges the court's presumption that a demonstrated preference for nudity is a sign of a mental disorder.

The Naturist Action Committee wishes to make naturists and others aware of this case. NAC's grass roots style of activism works best when there is an active group of local naturists with whom to work. However, since no such group has been identified in the immediate vicinity, NAC is taking the step of bringing this matter to the attention of a larger audience.

      The trial on the original charge of disorderly conduct has been set for Wednesday, January 23 at 9:30 a.m. in the courtroom of Judge Haslinger (courtroom E) of the Deschutes County Courthouse. The courthouse is located at 1100 NW Bond Street in Bend.

                   The original trial date was scrubbed in mid December.
                   The new date and time are May 2, 2002 at 9:30 a.m.

NAC encourages those who support this cause to make their presence felt at the trial and in the community. For further information, please contact NAC board member Mark Storey by e-mail at <storey98@aol.com> or consult NAC's web site at:

   www.naturistsociety.com/NAC

The Naturist Action Committee is the volunteer nonprofit political arm of The Naturist Society (TNS). NAC's mission is to advance and protect the rights of naturists throughout North America. NAC is not content merely to maintain the status quo and actively seeks to expand the envelope of nude freedoms.

Naturally,

Mark Storey
Director
Naturist Action Committee

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Naturist Action Committee (NAC)  - PO Box 132, Oshkosh, WI 54903
Chairman & Exec. Dir. Bob Morton - <ctnudists@aol.com>
Director Mark Storey             - <storey98@aol.com>
Online Rep Dennis Kirkpatrick    - <naturist@sunclad.com>
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