The Supreme Judicial Court today tossed charges against a Green Line rider caught snapping photos up the skirts of female Green Line riders in 2010.
In its ruling, the state's highest court said the law used to prosecute Michael Robertson applies only to "nude" or "partially nude" women in private locations, such as bedrooms, not to clothed women - even women with no undergarments - in public places such as the T.
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. ...
[B]ecause the MBTA is a public transit system operating in a public place and uses cameras, the two alleged victims here were not in a place and circumstance where they reasonably would or could have had an expectation of privacy.
The court said maybe women riding on the T should be protected against strangers pointing phone cameras at their crotches from Green Line stairs, but that the legislature would have to make that explicit:
At the core of the Commonwealth's argument to the contrary is the proposition that a woman, and in particular a woman riding on a public trolley, has a reasonable expectation of privacy in not having a stranger secretly take photographs up her skirt. The proposition is eminently reasonable, but § 105 (b ) in its current form does not address it.
Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley, whose office had brought the charges against Robertson, and which argued even people in public have certain privacy rights, says he will seek immediate legislation to make Robertson's behavior illegal:
Every person, male or female, has a right to privacy beneath his or her own clothing. If the the statute as written doesn’t protect that privacy, then I’m urging the Legislature to act rapidly and adjust it so it does.