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Wisconsin authorities have shut down one of the most popular nude beaches in the country. The nude beach shutdown follows years of efforts to stop public sex and drug use on the beach.
Nudists have been making pilgrimages to the public beach located on the Wisconsin River for years, reports The Christian Science Monitor. While authorities in the liberal Dane County largely ignored the public nudity, they could not turn a blind eye to the public sex and drug use that followed.
But if the problem is really that pervasive, why is the nude beach only being shut down on weekdays?
The weekday shutdown follows a review of citations issued at the nude beach near the town of Mazomanie.
Data that found that most violations happen on work days, when fewer people are milling about to spot lewd behavior. Authorities say that 83 of the 92 citations given out on the beach for disorderly conduct or drugs between 2008 and 2012 occurred on weekdays.
In Wisconsin, it is considered a misdemeanor to expose one's genitals in public. The statute clearly states that whoever publicly and indecently exposes genitals or pubic area faces criminal charges. However, Dane County prosecutors rarely ever prosecuted the crime and actually interpreted the law to mean that it was only illegal to expose yourself if in the meantime you also caused a public disturbance, reports the Monitor.
As word spread that no penalties would come from stripping down, tens of thousands of nudists across the country have visited the beach. Some estimate that 70,000 people a year make a trip to the nude beach each summer.
Local district attorneys have indicated that they are seeking disorderly conduct (for public sex) and drug charges against anyone caught engaging in illegal behavior at the nude beach. Under Wisconsin law, anyone convicted of disorderly conduct could face up to 90 days in jail, or up to two years if they're a repeat offender.
It appears, however, that otherwise law-abiding nudists may still be able to bare all at the public beach without getting in too much trouble -- provided that they don't have sex or do drugs. And as long as they only strip down on weekends.