Tuesday, October 10, 2000

Voyeur film penalties toughen

Ohio law among first of its kind

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — Wearing a sun dress on a sweltering summer day, Gina Bell became wary of the man standing behind her as she and her 16-month-old daughter waited to take a spin on a carnival ride at a church festival.

        “Every time I shifted in line, he would shift with me. I got a sense of somebody being too close.

        “As I crouched down to put the baby in my stroller, I saw a video camera sticking out of his bag, taping up my dress,” Ms. Bell, a 34-year-old former kindergarten teacher from South Euclid, recalled Monday.

        “It rocked my whole sense of security.”

        A law will take effect today addressing the practice of secretly taking pictures up a woman's skirt or down her shirt. The new law increases the penalties for the offense, which has been prosecuted under a voyeurism law.

        Most states have laws that prohibit taking pictures of people in places where people expect privacy, such as dressing rooms or restrooms.

        Ohio and California are the only two thought to specifically ban the practice of secretly filming someone under their clothing in public places for sexual gratification, called “upskirting” or “downblousing,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Similar legislation is pending in New York.

        Supporters of these laws say several Web sites are devoted to the practice of filming unsuspecting women.

        The new law increases penalties to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, from the current 30 days and $500 fine.


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- Voyeur film penalties toughen