It took Massachusetts just two days to ban upskirt photos

Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post
Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post

On Wednesday, taking photos up the skirts of women in public in Massachusetts was ruled legal. By Friday, lawmakers there made sure it wasn’t.

Gov. Deval Patrick signed the bill on Friday morning, his office said. Now taking such photos is punishable with a maximum of 2.5 years in jail and a $5,000 fine. Both are double if the victim is a child.

The law came to be because of a man named Michael Robertson. He was arrested in August 2010 by transit police in Boston for using his cellphone to take photos and videos up women’s clothes, but on Wednesday the state Supreme Court ruled that technically the law doesn’t prohibit that.

“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.

So, on Thursday, the House passed a bill outlawing the practice in a voice vote. Then the Senate passed the bill unanimously. Now it’s illegal.

Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.

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