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Bay State following in NH's footsteps with 'upskirting' law

From Staff and Wire Reports
March 06. 2014 8:11PM

  • Mass. Supreme Judicial Court has found upskirt photos taken on a subway aren't illegal. Should such voyeurism be a crime?
  • Yes
  • 83%
  • No
  • 17%
  • Total Votes: 917

New Hampshire law makes it illegal to take a photo up a woman's skirt in a public place, and the Bay State is following suit in response to a Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling that outraged many.

On Wednesday, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court acknowledged that the state's existing so-called Peeping Tom laws were not strong enough to convict an Andover, Mass., man accused of secretly taking cellphone photographs up women's skirts on the MBTA.

By Thursday afternoon, both the Massachusetts House and Senate had approved a bill that would criminalize the secret photographing or videotaping of a person's "sexual or other intimate parts."

"We're outraged by what has occurred and from today forward we want to make sure that these types of actions are dealt with in our court system and dealt with swiftly," House Speaker Robert DeLeo said.

Gilles Bissonnette, a staff attorney with the New Hampshire ACLU, said New Hampshire's (RSA) 644:9 "tries to create a carve-out for this very situation where a person might be in a public place, but someone is trying to film that person's body under a person's clothing."

He added: "The statute in essence is saying those body parts are under clothing and one would have an expectation of privacy to those parts," Bissonnette said Thursday.

Violators, if convicted, could face up to a year in jail and/or a $2,000 fine.

The Massachusetts ruling, written by Justice Margot Botsford, overturned a lower court decision. It came in the case of Michael Robertson of Andover, who was arrested in August 2010 for allegedly trying to take photos up women's dresses on Boston's Green Line subway.

Robertson's lawyer, Michelle Menken, argued before the SJC in November that women "can not expect privacy" on the subway and the current laws only protect those who are nude or partially nude.

The ruling found the women did not meet the threshold of being partially nude, nor did they have a reasonable expectation of privacy on a public train to not be photographed while fully clothed.

The SJC acknowledged the laws needed to be changed, and noted there were two bills pending in the Massachusetts Legislature that "appear to attempt to address the upskirting conduct at issue here."

MCT Information Services contributed to this report.

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