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Naked Cowgirl Sues NYC Over Wrongful Arrest: I 'Rebuilt' This City

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on February 24, 2015 8:47 AM

Sandy Kane, a.k.a. The Naked Cowgirl, is suing the city in which she performs after an alleged wrongful arrest last year. She may have "rebuilt Times Square ... and made Manhattan and Times Square history," as she told the New York Post, but the guitar-toting, pastie-sporting performer is now seeking $2 million in damages from the City of New York.

Kane is representing herself in her civil suit against the city.

Perp or Performer?

An officer arrested Kane, The Naked Cowgirl, in April 2014 and charged her with having an "unattended package." Kane says the package in question was her guitar case, and the officer only arrested her to fill a quota. She also asserts that a judge laughed while the package charge was dismissed.

The busty balladeer is not shy about her role in the city's revitalization, speaking about herself in the third person: "Maybe they should pay Sandy Kane for all she has done for this city." Kane also survived a lawsuit from rival nude songster The Naked Cowboy.

Nude v. New York

It is unclear how Kane's lawsuit against New York City will proceed, and city officials have yet to publicly comment on the case. What is interesting is that her arrest was based on her unattended guitar case and not her uncovered chest.

In case you didn't know, it is not illegal to be topless in New York, and city police officers have been on notice regarding that fact for years. And recently, a model sued the city following her nude, body-painted arrest and settled the case out of court.

Arrests Gone Awry

After Kane's charges were dropped, she filed a wrongful arrest lawsuit against the city. While officers generally have significant leeway to perform their jobs, some arrests can go too far. And arrests without probable cause constitute violations of the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

To be clear, just because police or prosecutors drop charges later does not mean an arrest was illegal. What matters is whether officers had a reasonable belief that the person had committed or was committing a crime.

In Kane's case, there is no statute outlawing leaving a bag unattended, and arrests for this behavior have been controversial.

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