Criminal Justice

Does man's Elmo diaper exposure amount to felony lewdness? Utah supremes hear arguments

A lawyer for a Utah man convicted of lewdness for showing children his Elmo diaper says the conduct may have been odd, but it doesn’t support a conviction for felony lewdness.

Lawyer Joanna Landau sought to overturn her client’s lewdness conviction in oral arguments earlier this month before the Utah Supreme Court, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. “It was not sexual, it was just strange,” Landau said.

Landau’s client, Barton Jason Lewis Bagnes, 36, was accused of pulling down his pants to show two 8-year-old children his diaper in a May 2009 incident. At the time, police said, Bagnes was sucking a candy pacifier and throwing paper airplanes onto lawns. Police have said the airplanes were actually fliers showing children in diapers and promoting websites that showed children in sheer underwear, the story says.

The fliers led to a conviction on two other charges—sexual exploitation of a minor and dealing in materials harmful to a minor, according to the Tribune. A lawyer for the state, Ryan Tenney, said the fliers suggested that “there’s something sexual going on here” when Bagnes dropped his pants. He also said just dropping your pants can be lewd and diapers can be similar to underwear.

“This is why you have mothers pulling their kids away from the Victoria’s Secret at the mall,” he said. “We understand underwear has a sexual component to it.”

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