Washington County Judge rules upskirt photos of minor taken in public area not unlawful

Last week, Washington County Judge Eric Butterfield acquitted a man who was charged with two counts of invasion of privacy and two counts of attempted encouraging child sex abuse in the second degree. The charges were brought because a 61-year-old man was caught taking pictures up the skirt of a 13-year-old girl inside a Target store. However, because the photos were taken in a public place, and because the photos did not contain any nudity, the man was not convicted on any of the four charges.

In Oregon, the invasion of privacy statute requires the victim of the intrusion to be in a place where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy. A few locations are specifically named, such as bathrooms, locker rooms, or tanning booths. In this particular case however, the judge felt he needed to acquit because the man took the photographs right in the main aisle of the store.

Additionally, the basis for the acquittal on the charges for attempting to encourage child sex abuse is because Oregon’s interpretation of “sexually explicit conduct” requires nudity, and here, the photos in question contained images of the girl’s underwear.

This is not a problem that has gone unnoticed, and even before the ruling in this case, Oregon House Bill 2596 was introduced to bring Oregon law up to speed with today’s technology. Under the new bill, it would be illegal to take a photo or video of another person’s “intimate parts” without their consent. Intimate parts is defined to include undergarments if they are covered by clothing and “intended to be protected from being seen.”

Another bill, HB 2356, also amends the invasion of privacy statute, and would make the offense a felony if the victim is under 18 or if the person charged has certain prior convictions. The bill would also require sex offender registration for those convicted under the statute that also have a prior conviction for a sex offense.