Charge dropped in RIC disrobing case

By Andy Jenks - bio | email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A Charlottesville man accused of disorderly conduct for disrobing at an RIC security checkpoint saw his misdemeanor charge dropped.

Aaron Tobey, 21, was preparing to board a flight to Cincinnati on December 30, when he approached the full body scanner. Surveillance footage showed Tobey removing his shirt and pants, revealing the 4th Amendment written on his chest. The amendment references protections against unreasonable searches. Tobey was wearing nothing but tight blue running shorts at the time.

After a brief hearing in Henrico General District Court, Commonwealth's Attorney Wade Kizer said Tobey's act did not rise to the level of what is covered by the disorderly conduct statute. "He was looking for attention, and he got it," Kizer said.

Tobey's defense attorney, Steve Benjamin, said to be convicted of disorderly conduct, one must provoke violence or a breach of the peace, and Tobey did neither. "That's about as un-American a thing, to arrest somebody for writing a constitutional provision on their chest, as I can imagine," Benjamin said, adding, "He simply wanted to make a statement, and as Americans, we have every right to do that."

Tobey, attending college in Cincinnati, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

When asked if the county's decision to drop the charge in Tobey's case might encourage similar acts in other airports, Benjamin quipped, "There's a lot of people I really don't want to see without their shirts on, but you know, we'd be a lot safer if everybody did travel half-naked. I'm just not advocating the idea."

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