Filming up a woman’s skirt without her consent in Georgia turns out to be legal when done in public, according to a U.S. court ruling which cited a “gap” in the law relating to a person’s invasion of privacy.
In 2013, Brandon Lee Gary was under prosecution for “unlawful eavesdropping and surveillance” after he was caught on CCTV several times placing his mobile phone beneath the skirt of a customer to record video without her knowledge. At the time, he was an employee of the supermarket where the incident took place, according to The Independent
. Gary was found guilty after admitting to the charge at a trial in Houston County Superior court.
On June 15, however, a Georgia’s Court of Appeal ruling reversed the conviction after the convicted made an appeal that he technically did not violate state law as it was exactly written.
Under Georgia’s Invasion of Privacy Act, to which Gary was prosecuted, it is illegal to observe, photograph or film the activities of another person without consent when they occur “in any private place and out of public view”.
Gary’s appeal, where he made an argument that he had filmed the woman in a public place, was upheld despite a lower court previously ruling that Gary’s conduct was “patently offensive.” The court also stated that “a woman walking and shopping in a public place has a reasonable expectation of privacy on the area of her body concealed by her clothing”.
In the new ruling, presiding Judge Elizabeth Branch wrote: “The question before this court, however is not whether the defendant’s conduct was offensive; it is not whether a person walking in a public place has a reasonable expectation of privacy as to certain areas of her body; and it is not whether the victim’s privacy was violated.”
“Rather, the only issue presented by this appeal is whether the defendant’s conduct constitutes a criminal invasion of privacy… ” wrote the Court of Appeals judge. “[I]t is regrettable that no law currently exists which criminalizes Gary’s reprehensible conduct.”
“Unfortunately, there is a gap in Georgia’s criminal statutory scheme, in that our law does not reach all of the disturbing conduct that has been made possible by ever-advancing technology,” the judge said.