- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 10, 2004

A federal judge yesterday dismissed a lawsuit brought by a southeastern Virginia nudist camp challenging a new state law that prohibits teens from attending a nudist summer camp without their parents or legal guardians.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. William ruled yesterday that the case was moot because White Tail Park in Ivor canceled its 2004 camp and withdrew its request for a permit this year.

“There is no controversy before the court,” Judge Williams said after a 20-minute hearing yesterday morning in Richmond.

However, the camp is requesting a permit for next year and wants a judge to rule on the constitutionality of the new state law, which forbids teen nudist camps unless the child’s parent, grandparent or legal guardian is present.

Judge Williams also said the law’s requirement for parental supervision is a minimal restriction that does not violate parents’ constitutional rights to raise their children as they see fit.

The dismissal of the case comes one month after Judge Williams ruled that the camp could not operate its planned teen nudist camp in defiance of the law.

That decision prompted camp organizers to move this year’s event to an undisclosed state and withdraw their permit for holding a camp in Virginia.

The American Association of Nude Recreation-East, the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia (ACLU) and White Tail Park said the law is unconstitutional and said yesterday they will appeal the judge’s ruling to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“They deserve to have their day in court and find out whether the law is unconstitutional,” said Rebecca Glenberg, legal director for the Richmond-based ACLU of Virginia.

She said the law is unfair and discriminates against the teens and parents who want to live a “naturalist” lifestyle.

“If there were a law requiring a parent to accompany every child to Boy Scout or Girl Scout camp, you can see what a burden that would be,” Miss Glenberg said.

Conservatives praised the decision yesterday.

“These types of camps have been magnets for pedophiles,” Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore said after the ruling. “We already require parents to agree to send their kids to R-rated movies. … We want to encourage parents to be involved in the lives of their children.”

Mr. Kilgore, a Republican, said the state thinks the law is constitutional. Earlier this year, the General Assembly overwhelmingly passed the law, which went into effect July 1.

The law was authored by Delegate John S. “Jack” Reid, Henrico County Republican and a former middle-school principal. He sponsored the law in response to constituents’ complaints about White Tail Park’s special summer nudist camp for about 35 youths between 11 and 17.

The law states the Board of Health shall not issue a license to any camp that runs a nudist camp for juveniles when a parent, grandparent or legal guardian is not registered for or present with the juvenile in the same camp.

“You don’t have to be a child psychologist to understand the potential dangers there,” Mr. Reid said yesterday.

Camp manager Bob Roche could not be reached for comment yesterday.

White Tail opened in southeastern Virginia in 1984.

About 1,200 nudists are there at any one time, including about 30 families who live there year-round.

Visitors undergo background checks, and the camp has strict rules against “intimate contact, suggestive behavior, overt sexuality or sexually provocative behavior.”

Besides White Tail and the association, plaintiffs include three couples who are White Tail members and their five children — three boys and two girls ranging in age from 11 to 17.

The plaintiffs are listed in the complaint by their initials to protect the children’s identities.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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