WASHINGTON (WJLA) - A female judge has dismissed charges against a Virginia man accused of voyerism for allegedly taking pictures up women’s skirts at the Lincoln Memorial, saying that women should have no expectation of privacy in a public place.
“This Court finds that no individual clothed and positioned in such a manner in a public area in broad daylight in the presence of countless other individuals could have a reasonable expectation of privacy,” wrote D.C. Superior Court Judge Juliet McKenna in her ruling (see complete ruling at the bottom of this article) on a defense motion to suppress evidence in the case against Christopher Cleveland.
Cleveland, who is from Springfield, Va., was arrested in June 2013 after U.S. Park Police officers said he appeared to be photographing women wearing dresses who were seated above him on the memorial steps.
A court filing indicated officers found numerous shots of women’s crotches and buttocks on Cleveland's camera after his arrest. McKenna's ruling tossed out those photographs from being used as evidence by prosecutors.
As a result, the U.S. Attorney's Office in D.C. moved to dismiss the case against Cleveland in late September; the court granted that motion.
In explaining her decision, Judge McKenna wrote, “The images captured were not ‘incidental glimpses’ and in fact were images that were exposed to the public without requiring any extraordinary lengths whatsoever, to view,”.
While McKenna did dismiss the charges against Cleveland, she noted that although his actions may have been legal - his behavior was nonetheless troubling.
“The fact that the Defendant was intentionally photographing publicly exposed areas of women’s clothed and unclothed bodies…is repellent and disturbing,” she wrote.
Despite the contention of officers at the time of Cleveland's arrest that he was taking upskirt shots (see prosecutors court filing at bottom of this article), a spokesperson for the D.C. courts on Thursday took exception to the notion that it was a case about "upskirting,"
"There was absolutely no evidence that on the day of his arrest, the defendant engaged in behavior that could be described in any way as ‘upskirting’ (the taking of photographs up a woman’s skirt), as the judge made clear in her 3-1/2 page ruling," said court spokeswoman Leah Gurowitz in an e-mail to ABC7 News.Cleveland Christopher - Court Order - Aug 2014Cleveland Christopher - Govt Opposition - July 2014