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House passes bill to close loophole in MN's ‘Peeping Tom’ law

Since 1979, Minnesota has had a “Peeping Tom” law that criminalizes entering someone’s property to gaze on someone or to record images “through the window or any other aperture” of a house or dwelling with the intent to intrude on a person’s privacy.

But an April 2022 decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court created a loophole that Rep. Kelly Moller (DFL-Shoreview) wants to close.

She sponsors HF111 to do that. Passed 130-0 by the House Thursday, as amended, it now goes to the Senate.

The court, in State v. McReynolds, decreed the Peeping Tom law did not apply in a case where a man was in a woman’s home with her permission, but took pictures of her sleeping in the nude without her consent.

Moller said the court acknowledged in its decision that the ruling “created an absurd result, and one that could result in stalkers gaining access to their victims’ homes to record them.”

To counter that possibility, Moller said the bill would establish a new crime for recording or broadcasting images of a person’s intimate parts if the person is in a home or other place where a reasonable person would have an expectation of privacy and the image is captured without the person’s consent.

Recording “upskirt” or “downblouse” images with the intent to interfere with a person’s privacy would also be criminalized.

Finally, the bill would amend the statute of limitations for these offenses so that they must be charged within three years from the date of offense or within three years of the time the offense was reported to law enforcement.

This change would help victims who don’t discover they have been victimized until invasive photos are uncovered much later, Moller said.

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