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Naked Montclair carpenter not guilty

  Court Watch  -   POSTED: 2007/09/10 06:04

Carpenter Percy Honniball enjoys practicing his craft in the nude and, according to at least one Alameda County Superior Court judge, there is nothing legally wrong with that.

Judge Julie Conger found Honniball not guilty of indecent exposure Thursday for being naked while he worked in a Montclair home last year.

Honniball, who has a history of not wearing clothes while working, was caught in the buff in 2005 as he made repairs to the home. A neighbor had called police.

At the time, Honniball, 51, said he was more comfortable working naked and didn't want to get his clothes dirty as he sawed wood and nailed cabinets together.

Police arrested Honniball for indecent exposure, a crime that includes public nudity and acting lewdly by intending to direct attention to one's genitals for sexual gratification.

If convicted of indecent exposure, a person could be sentenced to a year in jail and be required to register as a sex offender.

While there is no dispute Honniball was naked, Conger found that the carpenter was not acting lewdly, nor did he attempt to bring attention to his genitals for the purpose of sexual gratification.

"What he learned was that you can get in trouble even when you do legal things," said David Beauvais, Honniball's attorney. "Even though there is a reaction, on the part of some people, to nudity . . . it is not enough to charge somebody with this."

Honniball could not be reached for comment, but last year he said in an interview, "The primary reason is so I won't dirty my clothes and have to get into my truck with dusty clothes on. "It's more comfortable," he said.

Honniball knew working in the nude caused problems.

The carpenter was caught three times working naked in Berkeley. In 2003, he was given two years probation for violating Berkeley's ban on public nudity.

Oakland does not have such a ban.

"For Honniball, he feels that it facilitates his work; he has better range of movement," Beauvais said. "I could tell you some stories about nail guns, but we won't get into that."


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