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New York Law Allows Women to Bare Breasts; False Arrest Claim Settled for $29,000

New York state resident Jill Coccaro, a.k.a. Phoenix Feeley, prevailed in an action against the City after being arrested for baring her breasts in public in 2005. The City settled for $29,000 but admitted no fault.

An East Village artist, Coccaro let the top half of her jumpsuit hang down to her waist in public. Police arrested her for indecent exposure after she refused to cover her breasts. She argued that she had the right to bare her chest in public like men, and claimed she was jerked out of a police car by her hair, given a psychiatric exam at Bellevue Hospital, and police had refused to help repair her torn jumpsuit, leaving her only in her underwear. Coccaro claimed no wrongdoing and stated she "was so not resisting arrest." She was not charged. See: Coccaro v. City of New York, U.S.D.C. (SD NY), Case No. 1:06-cv-11460-LTS.

A New York State Appeals Court held in 1992 that women could not be punished for exposing their chests if men were allowed to do the same. In 2003, the City settled a suit for $10,000 after a model wore a thong and body paint to the Coney Island Mermaid Parade.

Source: New York Post

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Related legal case

Coccaro v. City of New York