Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Creeper's Peeping Plan Blows Up in His ... Shoe

If you haven't heard about the creepy trend of 'upskirting,' allow me to be the bearer of disgusting news. Armed with the latest in tiny camera technology, perverts in public places have been sneaking pictures from below of women wearing dresses and skirts. And, much to lawmakers' and law enforcement's dismay, efforts to criminalize the behavior have been met with mixed results.

Fortunately, karma can intervene every now and then on the side of the good people. Take the case of an unnamed Wisconsin man whose shoe camera, installed to take upskirt photos of women, exploded while he was trying it out at home, thankfully before it could be put to use.

Explosive Admission

The 32-year-old turned himself in to Madison police last week, apparently on advice of his clergyman who accompanied him to a local station. "He said he had purchased a shoe camera that he intended to use to take upskirt videos of females," Madison Police Chief Mike Koval wrote in a daily report, "but the camera battery exploded prior to obtaining any video." The explosion happened while the man was testing the camera at his home, according to Officer David Dexheimer. "When the explosion happened, he got treatment for minor burns, then disclosed what happened to his mentor, a clergyman," Dexheimer told the Wisconsin State Journal.

Wisconsin law makes it a felony to use "any device, instrument, mechanism, or contrivance to intentionally view, broadcast, or record under the outer clothing of an individual that individual's genitals, pubic area, breast, or buttocks, including genitals, pubic area, breasts, or buttocks that are covered by undergarments, or to intentionally view, broadcast, or record a body part of an individual that is not otherwise visible, without that individual's consent."

Laws Blowing Up

What happened in this particular case, however, is indicative of how difficult it can be to enforce such invasion of privacy laws -- in states that actually have them -- when it comes to upskirting. "The subject was counseled on his actions and released," Koval said, "as no illicit video had been taken." As the statute is written, however, all a person must do is "install" a camera to photograph someone without their consent. Perhaps police felt his injuries were enough a deterrent.

Law enforcement in other states, most notably Texas and Georgia, have been frustrated by court rulings that have invalidated anti-upskirt laws or found that existing laws don't cover upskirt photography. The law and those tasked with enforcing it, may, sadly be playing a game of perpetual catchup as advances in recording equipment technology continue apace. Hopefully, karma will continue to take care of the cases the cops can't.

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