After a Massachusetts court was unable to convict a man for taking “up-skirt” photos of women, officials assured San Diegans the same thing would not happen in their city.
To prove it, Escondido police announced an Oceanside man was convicted for using a cellphone camera to take pictures under unsuspecting women’s skirts and dresses.
Last month, Brian Gail Valencia, 27, pleaded guilty to three counts of disorderly conduct using a concealed camera to film under clothing.
The investigation into Valencia started in Sept. 2012, when a victim reported a man was taking pictures on his cellphone under her clothing while she was in an Escondido clothing store.
A few weeks later, a similar incident reportedly happened on an escalator in a North County shopping center, and then another was reported in March 2013.
Each case was similar, but police said they only had a vague description of the suspect from each victim.
Then in March 2013, San Diego Sheriff’s deputies arrested Valencia in a San Marcos electronic store when he was caught trying to take video under a woman’s clothes.
A search warrant served at Valencia’s home led to the seizure of phone records, still photos and videos, and investigators connected Valencia to nine separate cases of up-skirt filming in the North County, police said.
He had two prior arrests for similar cases.
As part of his plea deal, Valencia avoided jail time, but he has to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life. He was also banned from all the shopping centers where he committed the offenses.
In Massachusetts on Wednesday, the state’s highest court ruled a man who took up-skirt photos on public transportation did not violate state law because the women were not nude or partially nude.
In quick response to national outcry, the Massachusetts legislature unanimously passed a bill banning the violating photos, which the state’s governor signed into law Friday.
Calfornia’s statute criminalizes anyone using a recording or photographic device to film or photograph the body or undergarments of a person without their consent or knowledge for the purpose of sexual gratification, according to Escondido Police.