|01-04) 18:51 PST Rockville, Md. (AP) --
A Montgomery County judge ruled Tuesday that the act of mooning is not illegal in Maryland, clearing a man accused of indecent exposure after showing his buttocks to a neighbor during an argument.
Judge John W. Debelius III said the defendant, Raymond Hugh McNealy, 44, committed a "disgusting" and "demeaning" act when he allegedly exposed himself to his neighbor and her 8-year-old daughter June 7. But the judge overturned an earlier decision by a District Court judge against McNealy.
"If exposure of half of the buttock constituted indecent exposure, any woman wearing a thong at the beach at Ocean City would be guilty," Debelius said, according to a report Wednesday in The Washington Post.
McNealy's neighbor, Nanette Vonfeldt, accused him of yelling at her and threatening to "blow up my building" as she and her daughter walked out of their apartment. The two had a heated meeting the night before at the home owner's association, according to McNealy's attorneys, and McNealy wanted Vonfeldt off the board.
"Then, for whatever reason, in full view of my daughter, he mooned us," Vonfeldt wrote in court documents.
Montgomery District Court Judge Eugene Wolfe ruled against McNealy on the indecent exposure claim, a charge that is punishable by up to three years in prison and a $1,000 fine.
McNealy appealed, saying state law only covers display of a person's "private parts," which does not include the buttocks. His attorneys cited a 1983 case of a woman arrested in front of the U.S. Supreme Court with only a cardboard sign on the front of her body. An appeals court later ruled indecent exposure only relates to a person's genitals.
Prosecutors disagreed, saying Maryland law is ambiguous.
"This was not a bathing suit scenario," said Montgomery County prosecutor Dan Barnett. "This was a grown man exposing himself to an 8-year-old girl."
McNealy attorney James Maxwell said the Debelius ruling should "bring comfort to all beachgoers and plumbers" in the state.
Information from: The Washington Post,
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