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August 09, 2016

Screwy Georgia: Upskirt Videoing OK, Sex Toys Not

HOUSTON CTY, Ga.—No sooner did we become aware that it's okay for Sandy Springs, Georgia, to ban the sale of dildos and other sex toys than the news comes out that about 100 miles away in Houston County, it's not against the law for someone to follow a woman and use his cellphone to take videos up the woman's skirt. And that's exactly what Brandon Lee Gary did in 2013 in a local Publix grocery store. "According to court records, the woman, while getting milk, first noticed Gary bending down behind her as if he were tying his shoe," reported Bill Rankin of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "Even though that made the woman feel uncomfortable, she talked with Gary about an item she was looking for. On another aisle, as the woman grabbed an item off a shelf, she turned around and saw Gary bending down behind her again, this time with his cell phone out and its camera pointed up under her skirt. The upset shopper left the store but soon returned and complained to the store’s manager. A review of the Publix security camera showed that Gary aimed his phone’s camera underneath the woman’s skirt at least four times as she walked the aisles." Gary was busted under the state's invasion of privacy law, indicted in December of that year, was convicted and sentenced to five years' probation—but on appeal, the Georgia State Court of Appeals ruled that the privacy law didn't apply to Gary. "It is regrettable that no law currently exists which criminalizes Gary’s reprehensible conduct...," wrote Judge Elizabeth Branch for a two-thirds majority of the court. "The remedy for this problem, however, lies with the General Assembly, not this court." As it currently stands, Georgia's privacy law prohibits "the use of any device, without the consent of all persons observed, to observe, photograph, or record the activities of another which occur in any private place and out of public view." The problem? A Publix market isn't a "private place"—though one might argue, as did Judge Amanda Mercier, that what's under a woman's skirt is. "The activity recorded in this case was the activity of the private areas of the victim’s body covered by clothing while she walked and shopped. As the victim’s genital area was not exposed to the public, it was out of public view and the victim had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the area under her skirt," Mercier wrote in her dissent from the panel's ruling. At least one politician agreed with her. "I think our constituents certainly see awful conduct like this as an invasion of privacy," said State Rep. Rich Golick, who chairs the Georgia House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee, "and if we need to update the law to reflect that, then that’s certainly what we will do." Several states already have such laws, including Virginia, Massachusetts and Washington—and if a petition making the rounds on Change.org is successful, perhaps the rest of them will follow. Pictured: Security cam footage of Brandon Lee Gary shooting upskirt video.

 
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