Indecent exposure charges filed against CMU student who dressed as half-naked Pope

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PITTSBURGH —

Carnegie Mellon University Police have filed misdemeanor indecent exposure charges against a female student who paraded nude from the waist down while dressed as the pope.

CMU President Jared Cohon said that charges were filed against the unnamed woman and an unnamed male who was also nude.

“The students took part in a campus art event and, in the case of the student who portrayed herself as the pope, made an artistic statement, which proved to be controversial.

While I recognize that many found the students' activities deeply offensive, the university upholds their right to create works of art and express their ideas. But public nudity is a violation of the law and subject to appropriate action,” Cohon said.

CMU is taking no internal action.

Last week Cohon apologized for the April 18 incident after Bishop David Zubik of the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese complained.

Zubik said in a statement Friday that freedom of expression does not mean people should be allowed to disrespect anyone's religious belief.

Some CMU students declined to comment on the filing of charges, but others voiced their support for the decision.

"I thought that was illegal to begin with and the fact they are not taking any punitive actions on her based of religious offensive is an appropriate action," said CMU student Jordan Williams.

Cohon said the university will be making sure students, faculty and staff are up to date on the school’s freedom of expression policy.