Government Law

Coffee Shop Owner Guilty of Indecent Exposure Due to Skimpy See-Through Shorts on 'Bikini Barista'

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Up against well-known national names in the caffeine trade, local coffee shops in Washington state have tried creative marketing approaches to distinguish themselves.

Among the techniques adopted by some are so-called bikini baristas. One shop in Yakima even featured pole dancing, the city’s mayor, Micah Cawley, tells Reuters. But Yakima fought back, enacting an ordinance that banned baristas from wearing G-strings and see-through clothing.

Now the ordinance has been upheld in a criminal case against DreamGirls Expresso owner Cheryl Clark, who was found guilty of violating the city’s indecent exposure ordinance Friday after a municipal court jury trial. The bikini barista at issue in that case reportedly wore shorts that were both too skimpy and too sheer.

Clark could face up to 90 days in jail when she is sentenced later this month. But she says she will appeal. And meanwhile, the case has brought her coffee shop free international publicity—the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail, for example, features an article about Clark’s conviction illustrated with a photo of one DreamGirls server.

The barista also was charged in the indecent exposure case. However, she was acquitted by the jury, reports the Yakima Herald-Republic.

The newspaper says a lack of evidence contributed to the city’s defeat: Having neither taken photos of the barista nor seized her shorts, the government was forced to rely on a scanty lace garment provided after the fact by the barista as the alleged criminal attire. One prosecutor held up the offending panties in front of the jury while the other pulled downward on their lower corners, the newspaper recounts.

“Can you see through this?” prosecutor Jon Seitz asked the jury. “If that was what she was wearing that day, it was too little.”

An earlier Yakima Herald-Republic article provides additional details about the case.

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