Saved by the law: Mass. upskirt photographer innocent

(WPRI) – A Boston subway rider was arrested for taking cellphone pictures up the skirts of unknowing women back in 2010, but – thanks to the wording of state laws – his charges were dropped on Wednesday.

Michael Robertson was facing two counts of photographing an unsuspecting nude or partially nude person. Those charges were dropped by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on Wednesday.

The court said the subjects of Robertson’s subway photos were neither “nude” nor “partially nude” because dresses and underwear covered “these parts of her body.” The court made clear that it believed Robertson’s actions should be illegal, but the state law’s verbiage made the charges against Robertson unfounded.

State legislative leaders quickly and vocally spoke out against the court’s ruling. House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray each said they would immediately work with their fellow lawmakers to alter the state law.

“I am stunned and disappointed,” Murray said in a release. “We have fought too hard and too long for women’s rights to take the step backward that they did today.”

“The ruling of the Supreme Judicial Court is contrary to the spirit of the current law,” DeLeo said in a prepared statement. “The House will begin work on updating our statutes to conform with today’s technology.”

Meanwhile, in neighbor Rhode Island, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin’s office told WPRI.com that controversy such as this wouldn’t come up under Ocean State laws.

The Rhode Island law includes a “clad or unclad” clause when defining sexually explicit material, meaning someone can be guilty of video voyeurism whether or not the subject was wearing underwear or not. Convicted voyeurs in Rhode Island can be sentenced to up to three years in prison and fined up to $5,000.

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