New Jersey joined other states nationwide to criminalize the voyeuristic cottage industry known as upskirting.
Gov. Christie signed into law a measure approved by the state Legislature to add the practice to New Jersey's invasion of privacy statutes.
Upskirters have been at work nearly a decade. They're the reason Japanese manufacturers include the clicking sound on cellphones -- as a built-in warning -- whenever a photo is taken.
They position their cells or cameras in low-hung bags or stand under stairways or ride escalators. Others sidle up to their victim and lower their hands to get a cellphone into position.
In one instance, a Kentucky middle school teacher was arrested after he was reportedly caught under the cheerleaders’ bleachers.
Two years ago, Hackensack police said a self-admitted voyeur got images by placing a mirror into a basket of items he had no intention of buying at the local Target and then standing close to women at the checkout line or browsing.
Bergenfield police several years ago arrested a 21-year-old man who they said pointed a cellphone camera up the skirt of an 18-year-old high school student as she stood on line at a convenience store.
“A voyeur can snap a cell phone picture of an unsuspecting victim in seconds and share it online to the entire world," said state Sen. Tom Kean, a co-sponsor of the measure. "This new law will provide a strong deterrent to prevent this abhorrent activity.”
“We’ve read too many reports of upskirting pictures being traded online like baseball cards,” added state Sen. Kevin O’Toole, another co-sponsore. “Once a victim’s picture is posted online, it can be nearly impossible to have it removed from all of the sites that share it."
The new law makes it "a crime of the fourth-degree to photograph, film, videotape, record, or otherwise reproduce in any manner the image of the undergarment-clad intimate parts of another person, without that person’s consent and under circumstances in which a reasonable person would not expect to have those areas observed."
Convictions could produce prison terms of up to 18 months, fines of up to $10,000 or both.
However: If the images or recordings are disclosed in any way, including being posted online, it become a third-degree crime -- with a punishment of up to three to five years in prion and a fine up to $15,000 or both.
“As parents in this highly digital age, we’re always concerned about protecting our children and our privacy, and a big part of doing that is for state criminal laws to keep up with new and emerging technologies,” Christie said. “This new law targets perpetrators of a perverse and growing form of pornography that victimizes vulnerable women and children in a matter of seconds.”
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