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Nude Model Kathleen Neill Gets Off After Getting Naked in Met for Photog Zach Hyman

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(Zach Hyman/CBS)
Photo: Zach Hyman snapping model Kathleen Neill at The Met.

NEW YORK (CBS/AP) Nude, yes. Lewd, no.

A New York judge dismissed public lewdness and other charges Monday against 26-year-old model Kathleen Neill who posed for a nude photo shoot at the Metropolitan Museum of Art while visitors looked on.

Neill, also known as "K.C.," was arrested in August during photographer Zach Hyman's shoot in the arms and armor department in the Met.

Photo: Zach Hyman.

"Well, how else could I feel aside from ecstatic!," the 22-year-old photographer said to CBS News Crimesider when asked about the dropped charges. "I'm wondering how much artists might be able to use this case to their advantage in the future."

It was the first time one of Hyman's models has been arrested, though the young artist has been snapping nudes in public spaces for the last several months. An earlier photograph of a model disrobing in a subway car received media attention.

Photo: Zach Hyman snapping model Kathleen Neill at The Met.

For the Aug. 26 museum shoot, Hyman assembled a team of six to help make sure guards were not watching. Once the guards left the gallery, Hyman directed Neill to disrobe in full view of visitors for a 15-second photo shoot.

But a female guard quickly returned and entered the gallery mid-shoot. Neill grabbed her clothes. The team dispersed. But Neill didn't make it out fast enough.

Photo: Art by Zach Hyman (modified by CBS News).

She was removed from the museum in handcuffs, the only one of the team that was arrested.

"It's ironic to get caught in an art museum, since that's what we're doing here," Hyman explained.

Defense lawyer Thomas J. Hillgardner says Neill did nothing indecent while posing in an institution full of depictions of nudes.

He says she was making art and he noted court rulings saying public nakedness isn't necessarily lewd.

"The charges were completely ludicrous in the first place," Hyman said in the interview with Crimesider. "To see that everything was dropped is just a testament to the fact that, in this instance, a nude portrait was legally a-ok."

Prosecutors say they aren't sure they could prove the charges beyond reasonable doubt.

Hyman, a 22-year-old acting-school dropout, has taken nude photos almost everywhere in the Big Apple, including Chinatown and the heavily patrolled Time Square, in which he strategically placed friends near oblivious officers. During another August shoot on a subway car, one woman screamed while an elderly man started to shake. But most passengers seemed unfazed, according to the artist.

The models are unpaid. Hyman says they pose because they believe in the art.

"I'm just glad K.C. isn't behind bars," Hyman said. "I'm sure this is a huge weight off of her shoulders."

August 27, 2009 - Decent Exposure? Nude Model Arrested at The Met
August 20, 2009 - Naked Subway: Art or Indecent Exposure?

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