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    MacArthur Foundation Employee Accused of Taking ‘Upskirt’ Photos

    Timothy J. Hoeppner, Managing Director of Real Estate at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, has been accused of “using a small camera to take photos under women’s skirts during [a Chicago] suburb’s Fourth of July festivities,” reports the Chicago Tribune. “Hoeppner was charged with misdemeanor unauthorized videotaping after a plainclothes officer at the July 4 Frontier Days festival noticed him pretend to adjust his shoes while taking a photo under a woman’s skirt, police said.”

    A police officer stated that it was unlikely Hoeppner would receive the maximum year in jail if convicted, because this is Hoeppner’s first recorded offense. It is disturbing that the officer focuses on Hoeppner’s well-being rather than that of the his alleged victims. “The first goal is to get this guy some help,” the officer said.

    I believe the first goal is to find justice for his alleged victims; the state needs to convict the man and punish him to the fullest extent under the law. Surreptitious “upskirting” and “downblousing” photos are a violation of an individual. State and federal laws (pdf) have made such surreptitious photography a crime, and other countries also have criminalized “upskirt” photography and videography.

    But there continue to be questions with laws prohibiting surreptitious photography of unwilling individuals, and the laws need to be strengthened. For example, there was an uproar earlier this year when an Oklahoma appeals court upheld a lower court’s ruling that a “man accused of using a camera to take pictures under the skirt of an unsuspecting 16-year-old girl at a Tulsa store did not commit a crime.” The courts said that the girl was “not in a place where she had a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

    Earlier this month, I blogged about another disturbing case in Wisconsin. In that case, a man is accused of secret taping of sex with his girlfriend and her walking around nude in his home. The man argues that the woman had no expectation of privacy because she consented to be nude around him. The woman and the prosecution argue that his actions violated the state’s anti-video voyeurism law and her consent to relations with him did not automatically presume consent to being secretly taped by him.

    Last month, I discussed a case in Boston where neighbors in a building across the alley from a female couple see them having sex and secretly videotape the couple, then distribute the video online. One of the men charged said, ““I didn’t feel like a creep […] I didn’t feel like a Peeping Tom. I felt like this type of thing happens a lot.”

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