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Shining Light On 'Upskirt' Laws In Oklahoma After Owasso Suspect Arrested

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Surveillance photo of the man released by Owasso police on Thursday. Surveillance photo of the man released by Owasso police on Thursday.
Tommy Lee Rogers [Department of Corrections] Tommy Lee Rogers [Department of Corrections]
OWASSO, Oklahoma -

The Owasso Police Department arrested a man for taking "upskirt" photos of women at several businesses Friday and Saturday.

Police said Tommy Lee Rogers, 43, of Owasso turned himself in Thursday night.

The investigation began when a JC Penney customer called police to report a man taking photos up her skirt. Police learned the same man had taken similar photos at several other stores in and around the Smith Farm Market Place just off 96th Street North.

Upskirting falls under Oklahoma's peeping tom law and some people are frustrated it's only a misdemeanor, but just seven years ago, upskirting wasn't a crime at all in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma law prohibited someone from taking pictures or recording video of a person without that person's knowledge, but only if it was being done in a place where the person had expected privacy.

6/26/2014 Related Story: Police Discover Third Case Of 'Upskirting' In Owasso

Thanks to a series of stories News On 6 did a few years ago, the legislature added a section to the law, designating parts of a person's body that aren't visible to the public as a private areas, and making it illegal to secretly photograph those parts.

Still, whether it's a felony or a misdemeanor, depends on where you're standing.

Some women say they most feel they have an expectation of privacy when it comes to places like up their skirt or down their blouse, but the law says, the expectation of privacy isn't on your body, it's all about your location.

It says if you're in a dressing room at a store or in a locker room at the gym or even at a friend's house, you have an expectation of privacy so if someone takes that type of picture without you knowing, it's a felony.

But if they take that same picture and you're standing in a store looking at items or in a checkout lane, there is no expectation of privacy because you're in public, so in that case it is a misdemeanor.

"But I'm married, I have three daughters. My preference would be if a guy is sticking a camera under my daughter's clothing, I would like to charge that person with a felony but that's not how our law reads," Tulsa County Assistant District Attorney Steve Kunsweiler said.

Three years ago, an Owasso woman was an upskirt victim at a Hobby Lobby store. When she realized what happened, she said she was outraged and screamed and chased the guy out of the store.

"I never expected it to happen to me," Waynette, a victim said. "I always am aware of my surroundings, and it wasn't until later when I thought about him being there. It was just such a split second and he had already done the damage and I had no idea."

Police said they arrested Tony Rogers, an ex-con, after he turned himself in to Owasso police.

He's looking at six misdemeanors for taking pictures up women's skirts at different stores around town.

Police say they fear cyber voyeurism is only going to get worse as cameras get smaller and harder to detect.

It is currently illegal in Oklahoma to post or sell these types of pictures.

The most important thing you can do is pay attention to your surroundings, police say. If you suspect someone is doing something wrong, report it, get a great description of them, their car and their tag number because the truth is, a misdemeanor conviction is better than nothing.

Rogers is a convicted felon who has served time for charges in Tulsa, Rogers and Oklahoma counties. He has been found guilty of drug possession, burglary, larceny, check forgery and placing body fluids/waste on a government employee, according to Department of Corrections records.

Police booked Rogers into the Owasso city jail. He'll be taken to the Tulsa County jail.

 

 

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