Bill aims to make ‘upskirting’ a felony

Lawmakers vote to make ‘upskirting’ a felony
Photo of upskirting incident in Massachusetts

Lawmakers are going after a loophole that can let criminals who take revealing pictures off easy.

The behavior is known as “upskirting,” or snapping a photo under a skirt. Currently the penalty for those caught for the crime can depend on what the victim is wearing.

Madison police have made multiple arrests for upskirting in the last year, including an arrest in June of 38-year-old Ryan Przedwiecki, who was arrested for the fifth time for the crime since 2008. For four of those incidents Przedwiecki was only charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct, not invasion of privacy.

“Currently when you’re looking at whether someone is trying to take a picture of somebody nude that is entirely different than whether they are taking a picture of somebody who is partially clothed,” Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said.

Ozanne said “partially clothed” can mean the victim was simply wearing underwear, and thus the suspect can’t be charged under the “invasion of privacy” statute.

“I was shocked that there wasn’t more our District Attorney’s Office could do to make sure folks were being persecuted adequately for the severity of this type of crime,” said Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison.

Sargent is co-sponsoring a bill to change the law along with Rep. Jim Ott, R-Mequon. The bill would make it a Class I felony to take pictures against someone’s will under or through their clothing.

“This is a bill that addresses a creep factor,” Sargent said. “This is creepy, egregious behavior and we need to be doing something to protect people in our communities.”

The bill is seemingly on the fast track and will get a hearing at 11 a.m. Thursday in the Assembly Committee on Judiciary.