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Nude Model Gets $15K Over NYC Arrest

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on September 05, 2012 6:56 AM

Body-painting model Zoe West's NYC lawsuit over her naked arrest in Times Square has been settled, her lawyer tells the New York Post. Let us paint you a picture of what set off this dispute:

West's skin provided the canvas for a street artist who painted the 5-foot-2 model from head to toe in August 2011. Police moved in and busted West, 22, apparently for baring it all in public.

But that arrest was unlawful, and led to some humiliating treatment by ogling cops, her lawyer alleged in a false-arrest lawsuit.

West shouldn't have been arrested because "public nudity is legal in New York City as long as it's done for purposes of a performance, exhibition, or show," her lawyer told the Post.

Technically, that's a state law. (The law also gives local governments the power to prohibit all forms of public nudity, regardless of its artistic intent. But New York City has apparently chosen not to go there.)

After about two hours at a police station, the arresting officers seemed to realize the law couldn't touch the nude model. Zoe West's NYC lawsuit claims she was let go without charges -- but not before several police officers "gawked at her" for about 15 minutes.

It's not clear how the cops' alleged gawking would be any different than gawking by tourists or other cops in Times Square. In fact, West herself told the Post the officers "weren't abusive or anything like that."

But in compensation for her ordeal, West will now receive a payout of $15,000. Or as her very pun-centric lawyer put it, "The beauty of New York City is a naked girl can win a nice suit."

In general, a person can sue the police over a false arrest based on a variety of claims, such as lack of probable cause or, in West's case, when the person has a legal right to be doing what she was doing. That's even if the officer honestly believed her act was illegal.

Given the actual color of the law, the city's lawyers apparently chose not to fight nude body-painting model Zoe West's NYC lawsuit. "Given the police idiocy, one wonders where the boobs really are," West's lawyer told the Post.

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