HARRISBURG – April 21, 2021 – Legislation sponsored by Senator Steve Santarsiero (D-10) and Senator Bob Mensch (R-24) advanced unanimously out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today. This legislation will more substantially criminalize the act of “upskirting” in Pennsylvania.
In January of 2020, a former math teacher and soccer coach at Palisades High School in Bucks County was found to be taking ‘upskirt’ photos of students and then sharing them online.
“I’m not sure the word ‘upskirting’ connotes just how critically bad this behavior is. It’s predatory. These young women had no idea that he was doing this. As a result of this despicable act, the teacher was charged with invasion of privacy and indecent exposure, which is the least of what he deserved. We believe that Pennsylvania statute can be even more clear in punishing these acts, particularly when they are committed against minors and especially when they are committed by individuals in positions of authority,” Mensch said. “Specifically, our legislation will make this offense a third-degree felony for a first offense and a second-degree felony for subsequent offenses of invasion of privacy of a minor when committed by a person of authority.”
“As a father and former high school teacher, I feel strongly that educators have a special responsibility to protect and support students in their care,” said Santarsiero. “The case in Bucks County of a teacher who surreptitiously took photos of students and then shared them with others was a flagrant example of a violation of that responsibility and a breach of the trust that parents and students put in our teachers. I am grateful to have worked with my colleague, Senator Mensch, on this legislation. It will help hold those who break the law accountable and protect our children and students.”
We hope to send a strong message with this legislation that invasions of privacy like this that do so much irreparable harm to our children will not be tolerated and carry with them serious penalties and consequences.
You can watch Senator Mensch’s floor remarks here.
Watch Senator Santarsiero’s floor remarks here.
The House companion bill, House Bill 163, was passed in the House and is sponsored by State Representative Craig Staats (R-145) and State Representative Shelby Labs (R-143).
The House bill now awaits consideration in the Senate Judiciary Committee.