FLORIDA — Five people were charged in late August under a Tampa city ordinance prohibiting public nudity after a public access television show included wet t-shirt contests and nude women spraying each other with whipped cream, according to the Associated Press.
Jim Faile, who videotaped the women, and four others who either produced or appeared on the cable show in April and May were charged under an eight-year-old, rarely used city ordinance that prohibits the display of “female nudity for commercial exploitation.”
In addition to Faile, charges were filed against a woman appearing on the program who calls herself Jesse James, producer Dan Pombier and “Live on Tape” associates Troy Musial and Jeremy Owens.
The second-degree misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Pombier faces two counts because he rebroadcast the episode. The charges were filed in circuit court in Tampa.
Bill Schricker, programming director at the local Jones Intercable office, said complaints about nudity, prior to the arrests, were as low as 25 and “dropped to almost nothing” after the show agreed in April to move its broadcasts to after midnight. He could not, however, say with certainty that Jones Intercable had actually aired the show after midnight.
Defense attorney Luke Lirot said he intends to argue the show is “entirely protected speech” under the Constitution. In the past when citizens have complained of nudity on cable public access channels, judges have sided with the producers, contending the government cannot censor shows for nudity unless obscenity laws have been violated, he said. He filed a motion to dismiss the charges in circuit court in Tampa in mid- September.
(Florida v. Faile; Media Counsel: Luke Lirot, Clearwater)
The Reporters Committee regularly files friend-of-the-court briefs and its attorneys represent journalists and news organizations pro bono in court cases that involve First Amendment freedoms, the newsgathering rights of journalists and access to public information. Stay up-to-date on our work by signing up for our monthly newsletter and following us on Twitter or Instagram.