Don't touch pregnant bellies in Pennsylvania -- it's the law

Pregnant women in Pennsylvania no longer have to worry about strangers prodding their progeny.
Posted By Caroline Lee  |  Oct. 30, 2013 at 3:04 PM
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(UPI) -- An old Pennsylvania anti-harassment statute makes it illegal for a stranger to touch the belly of a pregnant woman without her consent.

Pregnant women have long endured good-intentioned "tummy rub," but a Pennsylvania woman says her neighbor crossed a line.

The law in question has been on the books for years -- it is not explicitly aimed at pregnant women, rather, it makes it illegal to harass any person with invasive touching. The statute got more attention this week when it did apply to a pregnant woman.

On October 20, 57-year-old Richard Beishline was charged with harassment after visiting his pregnant neighbor, 30-year-old Michelle Troutman.

Beischline hugged the expecting mother and rubbed her belly while saying "I just want to be friends" before she pushed him away.

She waited for him to go home and then called police. Police think the harassment charge may be a first, as the law is not typically applied to touching women that are great with child.

"Essentially, someone had touched a pregnant woman’s belly. That’s very common that pregnant women have to go through that," said Pittsburgh attorney Phil DiLucente.

"The only problem is when you harass, annoy, alarm in the act of touching, then it’s a violation, a harassment charge."

The charge is what is known as a summary offense in Pennsylvania, not a misdemeanor or a felony, and is typically disposed of with fines, DiLucente said.

Troutman is unlikely to get a guilty verdict, though, because under the Pennsylvania statute, Beishline would have to have harassed her on multiple occasions to get a guilty verdict.

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