Mass. Upskirt Photos

Mass. ‘Upskirt’ Photos Outrage Lawmakers, Made Illegal

Lawmakers in Massachusetts are scrambling to pass legislation that will outlaw the taking of “upskirt” photographs in the state. Charges were brought against Michael Robertson who was arrested in 2010 for using his cellphone on the Boston Subway to take upskirt photos.

Robertson, according to the The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling on Wednesday, didn’t violate state law which only prohibits the taking of photographs in dressing rooms or bathrooms.

The “Peeping Tom” laws protect people from being photographed in those situations, if they are nude or partially nude, but upskirt photos aren’t defined as meeting that definition of naked or partially naked, according to the interpretation of the law.

The ruling noted that: “A female passenger on a MBTA trolley who is wearing a skirt, dress, or the like covering these parts of her body is not a person who is ‘partially nude,’ no matter what is or is not underneath the skirt by way of underwear or other clothing,.”

Accordingly state law in Massachusetts: “does not apply to photographing (or videotaping or electronically surveilling) persons who are fully clothed and, in particular, does not reach the type of upskirting that the defendant is charged with attempting to accomplish on the MBTA,” the court said.

But House Speaker Robert DeLeo confirmed that lawmakers are rushing to get a bill to Gov. Deval Patrick as soon as possible in order to protect members of the public from “upskirt” photos. DeLeo said that while the legislation is being drawn up in haste in must withstand any constitutional challenges it might face later on.

DeLeo told reporters: “We want to make sure that we get the language right. It’s something which appalls us greatly. We’re outraged by what has occurred and we want to make sure that these types of action are dealt with in our court system and dealt with swiftly.”

Michael Robertson isn’t the first suspect to be caught in a sting operation of this kind. The MBTA police have investigated some 13 cases of passengers taking ‘upskirt’ photos and some of those investigations still remain open.

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