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'Topless Paparazzo' Nets $40,000 Settlement from NYC

Cops put her in the looney bin for several days for being topless and unashamed

'Topless Paparazzo' Nets $40,000 Settlement from NYC

NEW YORK CITY—Remember Holly Van Voast? She's the New York paparazza who's most frequently seen at public events wearing a fedora, blonde wig and penciled-on mustache—and nothing covering her tits. We wrote about her—and her lawsuit against the New York Police Department—here.

Holly's been arrested numerous times for being topless, even though a 20-year-old NY Court of Appeals decision made it legal to do so. She's also been committed to various psych wards around the city for standing up for those rights—to cops—which is what led her to file suit in the first place against Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and several dozen officers, accusing them, besides the topless rights violations, of unlawful imprisonment, and the city of negligent hiring practices, apparently aimed at the cops who, due to prejudice or lack of training or both, still think they can bust a person for going topless.

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"The lawsuit covers 10 incidents," Van Voast said. "But that doesn't count the many, many times I talked myself out of handcuffs. That happened so much."

But Van Voast's attorneys, including the well-regarded Ron Kuby, a civil rights advocate and former partner of the late William Kuntsler, advised her that going to trial on the case might not be the best idea, especially since, when she appeared in court to respond to a ticket she got for walking topless through Grand Central Station, she took her shirt off there too.

"All of us agreed I would really not do very well with a judge or a jury," she told The Village Voice. "That's just based on—you can look up any story about me online in the past two years, and the comments are just hideous. I was just a scapegoat for people's anger."

In any case, Van Voast's attorneys informed her of the settlement they'd reached—$40,000 for her, $37,250 for the attorneys—at her new residence in Berea, Kentucky, where she moved to work on her book, tentatively titled Topless Zodiac, and she hopes to use the proceeds to support herself while she finishes it.

Oh; and New York cops have been instructed once again that going topless in the city is perfectly legal whether you're a man or a woman.






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Mark Kernes

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