Welcome to today’s edition of the V Word.


I was in court one day. I give expert witness testimony on cases of sexual and domestic violence and child abuse. That day I wore a dress. I was sitting there in the lobby waiting for my turn to testify and what do you think I notice? The Sheriff’s deputy trying to take an upskirt photo of me with his camera phone. When I got up to walk toward him, he moved into a part of the courthouse I could not get to. I considered pursuing it but at the time did not know if I could. When I got out of court the deputy was gone. So then I looked up the law.

Do you know what an upskirt or down-blouse photo is? It is when someone tries to photograph up the inside of your skirt or doWwn the front of your top, or otherwise observes, films or photographs you in an inappropriate way without your knowledge or consent.

The law has been in existence since 2005 and so I am pretty sure that deputy knows the law and knew that in fact he was engaging in unlawful filming or photography of a person.

So for you secret filming perpetrators out there with your camera phones, what that means is that it is illegal to hold you phone or camera beneath a person or between a person’s legs to film or to photograph a person’s intimate areas, yes it really is illegal to hide cameras to film someone without their knowledge and when the person expects privacy.

That also means it is illegal to photograph someone in places like public bathrooms, places where people change their clothes, hotels (as in a recent case out at a Richmond mall?

…. So no cameras in the walls and no cameras in toilets (yes that has happened, remember Rockefeller hiding cameras in the toilets of the Rockettes bathroom?).

Now, while some states are doing nothing about upskirt photos,Virginia is and it is illegal. If this has happened to you, you have legal options to pursue.

There is a law (18.2-386.1) that Unlawful Filming, videotaping, or photographing of another is a Class 1 misdemeanor and it is punishable by 1 year in jail and or a fine of up to $2500 or both.

So to review….

It is It is illegal to to place a recording device directly beneath or between a person’s legs to film or photograph the person’s intimate parts or underwear when it it would not otherwise be visible and when the person should reasonably expect privacy.

If a harasser films or photographs you someplace like public restrooms, dressing rooms, locker rooms and hotel rooms, you can report the person.

It is also illegal for anyone to intentionally film or photograph a non-consenting person if the image exposes the private areas of the person’s body.

If a street harasser or perpetrator takes an up-skirt or down-blouse photo of you, or otherwise observes or photographs you in an inappropriate way, you can report the person.

Need help or more information? Here are some options.

For information on how to report in the Richmond area, you can call the non-emergency line at 646-5100, that is 646-5100 or go by a local police department office.

For help with counseling and advocacy, local rape crisis and domestic violence shelters can provide services. To find a center closest to you… you can call the Virginia Family Violence & Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238. That is the Virginia Family Violence & Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238.

Want to share a story or ask a question, email me at thevword.radio@gmail.com or tweet me at my handle @preventviolence You can read the transcript for this show and past shows on my blog at http://www.thevword.org.

The V Word is recorded in the studios of WRIR 97.3, read and produced by me, Carol Olson.