LOS ANGELES - A Playboy model who allegedly took a photo of a nude 70-year-old woman in the shower of a Playa Vista gym locker room and posted it on social media with a derogatory comment pleaded not guilty Monday through her attorney to a misdemeanor count of invasion of privacy.
Dani Mathers, the 29-year-old 2015 Playboy Playmate of the Year, came under a firestorm of criticism after the photo appeared on her Snapchat account in July. The picture showed the naked woman from behind, with Mathers' head turned away from the camera, with the message, "If I can't unsee this then you can't either."
Mathers did not appear in court on the misdemeanor charge. A pretrial hearing was set for Dec. 21, which she is also not required to attend.
Outside the courtroom, defense attorney Tom Mesereau said his client was sorry.
"She very much regrets what happened," Mesereau told reporters. "She apologized for her behavior and we're looking forward to resolving this case in a very fair manner."
Mathers, who was later banned from L.A. Fitness gyms, could face six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine if convicted, according to the City Attorney's Office.
"Body shaming is humiliating, with often painful, long-term consequences," City Attorney Mike Feuer said when charges were filed. "It mocks and stigmatizes its victims, tearing down self-respect and perpetuating the harmful idea that our unique physical appearances should be compared to air-brushed notions of 'perfect.'
"What really matters is our character and humanity," Feuer said. "While body shaming, in itself, is not a crime, there are circumstances in which invading one's privacy to accomplish it can be. And we shouldn't tolerate that."
Shortly after the photo was posted, Mathers apologized, writing on her Twitter account, "I'm sorry for what I did. I need to take some time to myself now to reflect on why I did this horrible thing."
In another post, she wrote, "This was a huge mistake and I'm so sorry. I understand that this was wrong and I will do everything in my power to show you." In another, she indicated that she did not mean to post the photo publicly, only send it to a friend.
In November, Mesereau told ABC7, "I'm very disappointed that Dani Mathers was charged with any violation. She never tried to invade anyone's privacy and never tried to break any law."