RENO, Nev. (AP) — Nevada authorities are cracking down on public nudity at Lake Tahoe beaches that have been considered clothing-optional for decades.
The increased enforcement of clothing rules was prompted by an encounter deputies had with nude sunbathers on the lake’s eastern shore Saturday, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Bob Harmon told KOLO-TV.
Nude men at Secret Cove made inappropriate and lewd gestures at deputies, leading to a confrontation, Harmon said. No one was arrested.
“If they didn’t behave in the way they did, we may not have noticed,” Harmon told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “They were pretty actively lewd and obscene.”
Harmon said he is not aware of any Nevada beaches that are legally sanctioned to allow for nudity.
Beachgoer Bryan Eidem said he did not see any lewd activity at the beach. He filmed the deputies’ confrontation, where one officer warns that the behavior could be considered a sex crime.
“I don’t know why they would threaten us and tell us we are going to be charged with sex crimes for sunbathing,” Eidam said.
Law enforcement officers usually have friendly and respectful encounters with the beachgoers, Eidam said.
Penalties for public nudity under local ordinances would not be classified as sex crimes, Carson City District Attorney Jason Woodbury said. Under state law, the first offense would be a misdemeanor.
While nude swimming and sunbathing have occurred for years at the lake, it’s still against the law, Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong said. Enforcement has not been a high priority, he said.
Authorities did a sweep of the beaches Sunday, telling those who were nude to put on clothes, Furlong said.
“I don’t know if it was some out-of-control recreationalist or what is happening,” Furlong said. “There’s no question it did take place and our reserves are going to be up in the area.”