Yes, videotaping a consensual act without a partner’s knowledge violates the New York laws against unlawful surveillance. The New York Appellate Division, Third Department rejected the defendant’s contentions that the New York unlawful surveillance law applies only to “peeping Toms” who hide video cameras in locker rooms, bathrooms, and dressing rooms. The law also applies to surreptitious recordings of personal sexual acts for “salacious and lewd” purposes.
The ruling upheld the conviction of a former Colgate University student, for second-degree unlawful surveillance, a Class E felony, for videotaping two fellow students without their knowledge while they had sex with him. He was also convicted of two counts of second-degree coercion for threatening to post the video of one of the women students on the Internet, identifying her by name, unless she consented to having oral sex on camera.
When former NY Governor George Pataki signed the New York unlawful surveillance bill into law, he had in mind the unauthorized taping of people willingly engaging in sexual acts as constituting criminal behavior under the amended New York Penal Law §250.40. “Women throughout New York State have unknowingly been videotaped while engaging in sexual relations,” Pataki wrote in a message accompanying the law. “Several women in this category have attempted to file complaints alleging that their partner made these videotapes without their knowledge or permission and are now even posting the video footage on the Internet. These women were turned away without a remedy.”
The court also upheld the listing of the defendant on the state’s Sex Offender Registry. It is within the discretion of judges to order offenders to be listed on the registry when their “history and character” would indicate the potential for future sex-related offenses.
If you are charged with a sex crime, contact criminal defense attorney Robert Friedman of Friedman & Ranzenhofer, PC now at 716.542.5444.