Bi-partisan legislation to make “upskirting” a felony

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Last week, Representative Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) circulated a bill she co-authored with Representative Jim Ott (R-Mequon) for co-sponsorship. The bill addresses the issue of “upskirting”—using a camera or video recording device to take photos or videos up a person’s skirt or underneath a person’s clothing.

Upskirting has become a significant problem in Wisconsin, but under current statutes, it is not a punishable offense.

“I was happy to work with Representative Ott to create a strong, bipartisan bill to address the growing issue of upskirting in Wisconsin. Advancements in technology require legislators to adapt and for our laws to evolve. I will continue to fight for the respect and protection of our citizens’ right to privacy and public safety.”

Representative Sargent testified on behalf of the legislation at a public hearing before the Judiciary Committee. If passed, the bill creates a felony offense for persons who knowingly take upskirting photos or videos of a person without their consent.

“No one should feel unsafe while doing everyday tasks like grocery shopping or riding the bus.  Upskirting is an egregious violation of privacy and we must act swiftly to close this legislative loophole.”

Upskirting has become a significant issue in recent years.

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,” Sargent said.

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

Most believe the bill is on the fast track to be approved.