A vile, abhorrent new ruling passed in Georgia ensures that women do not just have to fear assailants who prowl dark alleyways, but also creeps in public spaces who can invade their privacy any time at will.
Brandon Lee Gary was arrested for filming up a woman’s skirt, classically called the upskirt shot. His victim was shopping at the mall where Gary was employed, and CCTV footage showed him trying to repeatedly get a video recording up the woman’s skirt. In 2013, he was found guilty and prosecuted by the Houston County Superior Court.
However, the law under which Gary was booked, Georgia’s Invasion of Privacy Act, stipulated that it was illegal to observe, photograph or film the activities of another person without consent when they occur "in any private place and out of public view." Gary appealed to Georgia’s Court of Appeal, maintaining that he had shot the woman in a public place, and not in private.
This loophole paved the way for a disgusting ruling, instantly giving women almost no legal recourse if their bodies are violated in public in such a way. Gary has been released, and it has been decreed that filming a woman without her consent in a public place is absolutely fine.
The court ruling came even as a lower court made the obvious declaration that his actions were "patently offensive."
Countering this claim in documents published by Patch, Judge Elizabeth Branch writes, “The question before this court, however, is not whether the defendant’s conduct was offensive; it is not whether a person walking in a public place has a reasonable expectation of privacy as to certain areas of her body; and it is not whether the victim’s privacy was violated.
"Rather, the only issue presented by this appeal is whether the defendant’s conduct constitutes a criminal invasion of privacy…
"Unfortunately, there is a gap in Georgia’s criminal statutory scheme, in that our law does not reach all of the disturbing conduct that has been made possible by ever-advancing technology."
The verdict, thankfully, isn't being taken lightly by those with influence. CBS reported that State Sen. Vincent Fort (D) intends to submit legislation to close the loophole next year.
According to WRDW, State Sen. Harold Jones (D) believes that the court erred." In his statement, he said, “I understand their rationale but the key to me is although this was a public place — the young lady has an expectation of privacy in the area he filmed.”
Legislators better act fast. It's unacceptable that a woman fears for her privacy and safety simply for the choice to wear a skirt. Rulings like this feed rape culture, confirming that it is OK to infringe upon women’s privacy and then get away with it by stretching the law to the breaking point.