A man who took cellphone photos up the skirts of women riding the Boston subway did not violate state law because the women were not nude or partially nude, Massachusetts’ highest court ruled Wednesday.
The Supreme Judicial Court overruled a lower court that had upheld charges against Michael Robertson, who was arrested in August 2010 by transit police who set up a sting after getting reports he was using his cellphone to take photos and video up female riders’ skirts and dresses.
The ruling immediately prompted top Beacon Hill lawmakers to pledge to update state law.
Existing so-called Peeping Tom laws protect people from being photographed in dressing rooms and bathrooms when nude or partially nude, but the way the law is written, it does not protect clothed people in public areas, the court said.
“A female passenger on a MBTA trolley who is wearing a skirt, dress, or the like covering these parts of her body is not a person who is ‘partially nude’ no matter what is or is not underneath the skirt by way of underwear or other clothing” the court said in its ruling.