Dani Mathers, the former Playboy Playmate who posted a body-shaming photo of a naked in a gym locker room, has been charged with the crime of invasion of privacy for the much-maligned incident, The Los Angeles Times is reporting.
Back in July, Mathers, 29, was at an LA Fitness gym in Los Angeles when she shot on her cell phone a surreptitious photo of a naked 70-year-old woman showering. In the foreground, you can see Mathers covering her laugh with a gloved hand. She then posted the photo on her Snapchat account, with the caption, “If I can’t unsee this then you can’t either.”
— Eat My News (@EatMyNewsCo) November 5, 2016
Mathers would later claim that she intended to only send the photo privately to another user, but that she accidentally made it public instead, according to Global News. The photo quickly went viral on social media, and the response wasn’t positive: users on social media almost uniformly condemned Mathers for taking the photo of the nude woman without her knowledge and then for body-shaming her.
The fallout from the photo wasn’t limited to social media. LA Fitness revoked Mathers’ membership from all locations across the country; a spokesperson said she will never be welcome at an LA Fitness property ever again. She was also quickly fired from her radio job at L.A.’s KLOS Radio.
— Michael Kaestner (@Michael4639) October 19, 2016
Mathers later apologized for taking and sharing the photo.
“That was absolutely wrong and not what I meant to do. I know that body-shaming is wrong. That is not the type of person I am.”
A few days after the photo surfaced, the victim, whose name has not been released, came forward to the LAPD and identified herself, according to this Inquisitr report, paving the way for both a lawsuit and a criminal investigation against Mathers. Mathers then hired high-profile L.A. attorney Thomas Mesereau to defend herself should she ever face criminal charges; Mesereau is noteworthy for having represented Michael Jackson against child molestation charges, and former Baretta star Robert Blake against murder charges.
On Friday. L.A. County prosecutors did, indeed, file criminal charges against Dani Mathers. Specifically, she’s been charged with one misdemeanor count of invasion of privacy.
L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer noted that body-shaming is not a crime, but taking nude photos of people in a gym – or anywhere else – without their permission, and sharing them on social media, is a crime.
“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.”
Dani Mathers’ criminal case is somewhat unique in that, while people have been prosecuted before for taking photos in compromising places (locker rooms and bathrooms, for example), the criminals in those cases have always been peeping Toms and other perverts who had taken the photos for “prurient” reasons, and not for public body-shaming.
Leonard Levine, an L.A. attorney who has defended criminals accused of taking nude photos in gyms and locker rooms, told the Times that he’s not aware of anyone ever being prosecuted for taking and sharing a nude photo with the sole intention of body-shaming the victim.
“Most have some lascivious intent. In this case, the aspect of the shaming is a very unusual motive that I have not seen prosecuted before.”
Do you think Dani Mathers deserves to be charged with a crime for taking a body-shaming photo of a nude woman?
[Featured Image by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Playboy]