ATLANTA — Georgia lawmakers plan to close a gap in state law that led a divided Court of Appeals to find a man didn't do anything illegal by filming videos up a woman's skirt while she shopped at a grocery store.
Several lawmakers promised to change state law after the Court of Appeals' July opinion tossing former store employee Brandon Lee Gary's conviction for invasion of privacy.
Rep. Shaw Blackmon, a Republican from Bonaire, pre-filed a bill this week to prevent taking photos or video under someone's clothing without consent.
"A team of us have worked to get this ready early, so everyone understands it's a priority," Blackmon said. "This is obviously criminal behavior, and we want to see anyone taking part in it properly punished."
The Court of Appeals' 6-3 majority opinion issued July 15 said Gary's "reprehensible" behavior — known as "up skirting"— didn't violate the state's invasion of privacy law under which he was prosecuted.
"Unfortunately, there is a gap in Georgia's criminal statutory scheme, in that our law does not reach all of the disturbing conduct that has been made possible by ever-advancing technology," Judge Elizabeth Branch wrote. "The remedy for this problem, however, lies with the General Assembly, not with this Court."
Branch's opinion said there was no dispute about what Gary did while employed at a Publix grocery store in Houston County, about 100 miles south of Atlanta. Security cameras showed Gary aiming his camera under the woman's skirt at least four times as she shopped, and he admitted taking video when police questioned him.
After the Court of Appeals declined to reconsider its ruling, the state filed a petition asking the state Supreme Court to review the case. The Supreme Court hasn't yet decided whether to review the ruling.
The proposal has backing from House leaders, including Rep. Rich Golick who chairs the committee likely to consider the proposal and Speaker David Ralston.
"If this is still the law of the land when we get to session, we're going to fix it," Kaleb McMichen, a spokeswoman for Ralston, said this week.
Lawmakers return to the Capitol in January.