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Upskirt photos of teen ruled legal in Oregon

AP

A judge has ruled that a 61-year-old Oregon man did nothing illegal when he crouched in a store aisle and snapped photos up a 13-year-old’s skirt.

It was lewd and appalling but not outlawed, Judge Eric Butterfield said. “From a legal point of view, which unfortunately today is my job to enforce, he didn’t do anything wrong,” the judge said Thursday.

Patrick Buono of Portland didn’t dispute using his cellphone to take the photos on Jan. 3 at the store, The Oregonian newspaper reported.

His defense lawyer, Mark Lawrence, argued that he hadn’t violated laws against invasion of privacy and attempted encouraging child sexual abuse — a child pornography count.

The privacy law bans clandestine photography in bathrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms and tanning booths, but the Target aisle was plainly public, Lawrence said.

Upskirt sightings can occur by happenstance, he said, citing a famous photo of Marilyn Monroe with her dress flying up. And that could happen to someone riding up an escalator, taking a spill or exiting a car, he said. “These things are not only seen but video-recorded,” Lawrence said. “It’s incumbent on us as citizens to cover up whatever we don’t want filmed in public places.”

The privacy law also specifies nudity, and the girl was wearing underwear, Lawrence said.

The prosecutor conceded that the lack of nudity was a “live issue in this case” but he argued the charge applied. “Sure, she’s in a public place. But she had an expectation of privacy that a deviant isn’t going to stick a camera up her skirt and capture private images of her body,” Deputy District Attorney Paul Maloney said.

As for the charge related to child sex abuse, Lawrence said, the girl was not engaging in sexual conduct, which that statute specifies.

The judge called his decision to acquit Buono “upsetting, to say the least.”

After the ruling, Buono shook his lawyer’s hand and hurried from the courtroom.