'Upskirting' A Felony Or Misdemeanor Depending On 'Expectation Of Privacy'

Monday, May 14th 2018, 7:17 pm
By: News On 6

An upskirting victim is outraged after learning a man who took a picture up her skirt at Walmart was charged only with a misdemeanor.

He pleaded guilty and got a deferred sentence.

Now, the victim is challenging lawmakers to update the law and better protect women.

The law is all about an expectation of privacy. It says if you're in a place where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy, like a dressing room, bathroom or tanning salon, and they take a picture, it's a felony.

But, if you're somewhere out in public, you have a less expectation of privacy. It's still illegal, but, if a picture is taken there, it's a misdemeanor.

Police say surveillance video shows James Bobbitt inside the Broken Arrow Walmart in April.

3/30/2018 Related Story: Surveillance Video Released In BA Walmart Upskirt Photo Incident

One woman says she was shopping when someone told her Bobbitt had taken a picture up her skirt. The woman, Sheila, notified an employee and chased Bobbitt as he ran into the bathroom.

She says he apologized and told her he deleted the picture.

Customers got his tag number, which led to his arrest, and prosecutors charged him with misdemeanor peeping tom.

"I was very mad," Sheila said.

She believes women have an expectation of privacy up their clothes no matter where they are, and she believes the law needs to be changed to make peeping tom always a felony.

"Everyone is outraged," she said.

Assistant Tulsa County District Attorney Kenneth Elmore said, “As gross as it sounds, as bizarre as it sounds, that, ‘Hey, if she wears a skirt in public,’ she has less of an expectation of privacy.’"

Sheila's main concern is history shows peeping toms often repeat their crimes and often escalate to worse crimes like rape, so, she's called lawmakers and is ready to start a petition, if need be, to get the law changed.

"I look to these lawmakers to say what message are you sending to your daughters," she said.

Also, anyone convicted of peeping tom, even the felony version, currently, does not have to register as a sex offender no matter how many times they've done it.