Courts & Crime

Bikini-clad coffee servers too hot for some

EVERETT, Wash. — Prosecutors are reviewing whether to file their first indecent-exposure charges against a bikini barista.

They could make a decision on the issue next week.

The consideration of the case is taking place as five Everett baristas face prostitution charges for allegedly offering to sell customers more than coffee. And cities and counties around the state are studying, revising or tightening regulations.

The local case involves a 19-year-old woman cited for the simple misdemeanor last fall after somebody called 911 to complain about public nudity.

The woman was walking to an outside storage shed at Bikini Bottom Espresso II on South Hill on Oct. 7 when the passerby, a woman with a child in her car, called deputies.

The barista's breasts were bare, save for X-shaped pasties covering her nipples, according to a Pierce County sheriff's report.

A deputy cited her for unlawful public exposure under the county code and confiscated the pasties after she put on a bikini top, the report says.

County attorneys expect to decide early next week whether to charge the woman under statutes prohibiting exposure of certain body parts, including bare breasts, Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said Friday.

Neither the barista nor the owners of the stand involved could be reached for comment. The News Tribune is not naming the woman because she has not been charged with a crime.

The steamy issue of scantily clad coffee sellers divides residents in many communities. Some see baristas dressed in bikinis, lingerie or other skimpy outfits as an expression of freedom and American entrepreneurship. Others complain the so-called "sexpresso" stands degrade the women who serve the coffee and erode community morals.

Pierce County prosecutors have reviewed possible cases involving barista nudity before, but they have not filed charges, Lindquist said. There have been no reports of baristas charged with indecent exposure, lewd conduct or prostitution in other South Sound cities, including Tacoma, Lacey and Lakewood.

Bonney Lake hasn't had any problems since it strengthened its municipal code last year after complaints about "bare-istas" there, City Administrator Don Morrison said this week.

"They're still wearing bikinis, but they're in compliance with the ordinance, which pretty much follows case law on what's obscene or indecent," he said.

Read more of this story (and see a photo) at TheNewsTribune.com

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