PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The president of Carnegie Mellon University says charges have been filed in connection with an incident in which a female student dressed
up as the pope, and was naked from the waist down, with a her pubic hair shaved in the shape of a cross.
The incident happened at an annual art school parade last month.
In a letter to the CMU community released today, President Jared Cohon said campus police have now filed misdemeanor charges for indecent exposure against two students in the incident.
The statement continues: “Final disposition of these charges will occur through the Allegheny County justice system, not through university channels. There will be no separate disciplinary action pursued through the university’s internal process.
After a two-week review, Carnegie Mellon police have charged 19-year-old art student, Katherine O’Connor with indecent exposure.
22-year-old Robb Godshaw was also charged with public nudity, along with another student who says he’s friends with both.
The students contest the charges on the grounds of First Amendment Rights to Free Speech.
“They needed to do what they needed to do and I’m grateful that they took it seriously,” says Bishop David Zubik of the Pittsburgh Diocese. “I did what I needed to do; and said hold on this is offensive to catholics and chiristians alike.”
“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.
“I understand that this resolution may not be supported by those who believe that there can be no limits on the freedom of artistic expression. Others who were particularly offended by the incident may be distressed that more severe action is not being taken.