A man riding a bicycle, wearing only thong underwear, claimed he had done legal research to make sure his breezy bike ride was not indecent exposure.
But a Newport News police officer – and the Court of Appeals of Virginia – disagreed with the cyclist’s legal analysis.
Dax Juaquin Maness was spotted cycling early one Sunday evening on Warwick Drive, “one of the main thoroughfares in the City of Newport News,” according to the appellate panel’s May 20 unpublished opinion. He was clearly visible to pedestirans, including children, as well as to people in passing cars, the court said.
When Maness dismounted, the officer could see the bareback rider had on skimpy thong underwear, with only a thin strip of material in the front to barely cover his genitals. The string up the back “was completely absorbed in his buttocks,” giving the appearance of complete nudity, the panel said.
Maness told the officer he thought it was a nice day for a bike ride, and he denied that he was seeking or receiving sexual gratification by his conduct. But the court upheld Maness’ conviction under Va. Code § 18.2-387, based on behavior evincing a “shameful or morbid interest in nudity.” The court said it had “no difficulty concluding that appellant’s display of himself went ‘substantially beyond customary limits of candor …’”
The appellate court hastened to add that “not all public displays of nudity evince an interest in nudity that is ‘shameful or morbid’,” as the “obscenity standard requires a contextual assessment of exposure of a nude or partially nude body.”
A model who poses fully nude in an art studio, for example, would not run afoul of the statute, the court said.