City drops public lewdness charge against 81-year-old woman

By Calvin Palmer

A charge of public lewdness filed against an 81-year-old Alabama woman accused of urinating in a public park was dropped today.

Prosecutors for the city of Mobile asked a judge to dismiss the charge against Lula Mae Battle after learning she suffers from incontinence.

“As far as we’re concerned this is over,” said city attorney Larry Wettermark. “A prosecutor is supposed to do justice. Once we learned of the circumstances we decided this was certainly a case that should not be prosecuted.”

Municipal Court administrator Pete Peterson said the judge would likely rule on the city’s motion to throw out the charge on September 15, the day Battle is scheduled for trial. But Wettermark said the case is done.

Battle was at her bank, next to Bienville Square in downtown Mobile, on June 3 when a teller refused to let her use the bathroom. Battle tried to make it to a public restroom across the park but was unable to get there in time.

She lost control of her bladder, so she ducked into bushes next to a small building. But the building was a one-room police substation manned by a cadet, who called for an officer and had her arrested.

She was taken to jail, booked on a charge of public lewdness and released on $500 bail. The charge carries a maximum penalty of three months in jail and a $500 fine.

In anticipation of a trial, Battle said she had been saving money. She was unable to pay her phone bill, so the service was cut off.

City Hall received calls from people complaining about Battle’s arrest after news of the case became public, Wettermark said.

He added the police officer was correct in arresting Battle, but then prosecutors can decide whether the case is worth pursuing.

Good for Wettermark. And what an appropriate name to be involved in a case of this nature. It is just a pity common sense did not prevail a little earlier to save matters getting as far as they did and putting Battle through this ordeal.

[Based on a report by the Associated Press.]

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