AP NEWS

Somers bill would add ‘up-skirt’ footage to definition of voyeurism

March 5, 2019

A bill proposed by state Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, would expand the definition of voyeurism to include taking “up-skirt” footage without consent — even if the victim is in a public place.

Under the law, a person who’s in a public space generally doesn’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy. People also are allowed to photograph things that are plainly visible from public spaces.

Somers said both aspects have made it hard to prosecute people who take up-skirt photos and videos.

“But there’s a difference between (taking a picture of) a person who’s lying on a bench in the train and exposed versus someone physically putting a phone under your skirt,” said Somers, who said prosecutors are helping legislators craft the bill.

“That’s where we’re trying to go with this,” she said. “We want to make it so it’s not legal to put your phone under someone’s skirt and take a picture.”

Somers said she learned of the issue from a woman who was directly affected — while in the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

Somers said someone took an up-skirt photo of the woman while she was on an escalator. The woman tried to get the person convicted of voyeurism but couldn’t because it happened in a public space, Somers said.

“For all the women that have had this happen — and it can happen to men, too, I suppose — I think about them having to go through the judicial system and then somebody gets to just walk away because of the way the law is written,” Somers said. “It doesn’t seem appropriate.”

In the warrant for his arrest, police said a former Connecticut College student, accused Friday of taking 213 videos of women in campus shower stalls, got his start by taking up-skirt videos on the New York City subway.

Police said they found 72 up-skirt videos when examining the iPhone XR belonging to Carlos Antonio Alberti, 21, of Richmond, Mass. Alberti allegedly told police he felt a compulsion to shoot the videos and believed he couldn’t stop. He is facing seven counts of felony voyeurism in connection with the shower stall videos; it wasn’t clear if he’ll be charged in relation to the up-skirt ones. The investigation is ongoing.

Somers said her bill S.B. No. 499 is scheduled for a public hearing March 25. She said there likely will be some opposition because few bills are unopposed, “but we’ll have to wait and see.”

Under state law, voyeurism is either a Class C or a Class D felony, depending on the suspect’s criminal history and the victim’s age.

“Any rational person would think they are entitled to privacy under their own skirt,” Somers said. “It’s a loophole we have to fix.”

l.boyle@theday.com

All contents © copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.