EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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March 12, 2014

Charge dropped against city man after court rules 'upskirting' not illegal

Child porn charge replaces allegation man took photo under girl's skirt

(Continued)

After the Supreme Judicial Court decision, lawmakers said it was important for the Legislature to move fast to close a “shocking” loophole in current laws that allowed Robertson to get away with secretly photographing up women’s skirts.

Following the Supreme Judicial Court decision last week, the Massachusetts House and Senate approved a bill prohibiting the covert photographing, videotaping or electronic surveillance of someone’s “sexual or intimate parts,” regardless of whether those parts are naked or covered by clothing or undergarments, in situations when a reasonable person would believe that their sexual or other intimate parts would not be visible to the public.

On Friday, Gov. Deval Patrick signed the bill into law, making “upskirting” photos illegal in Massachusetts.

“We can’t reinstate the charges (against Hager) because, according to the SJC, it wasn’t a crime when he (Hager) allegedly committed the act,” O’Connell said about last year’s incident involving the young girl at the Market Basket in Haverhill.

“Given the facts of the case, we felt that the child pornography charge was the proper one to pursue, and the case has now been assigned to a superior court prosecutor,” O’Connell said.

He said Hager has remained in the custody of the Essex Sheriff’s Department since his arraignment last year.

Hager’s defense lawyer, Pamela Rogers of Haverhill, did not return a phone call from The Eagle-Tribune seeking comment.

Police said that on the afternoon of Aug. 5, 2013, Hager followed the girl and her mother from the time they entered the Market Basket to a point where — unnoticed by the woman and her daughter — he approached the girl from behind and slipped a cell phone under her skirt.

According to a police report, when later questioned by detectives Hager admitted that while in the store’s bread aisle he bent down and held his cell phone under the girl’s skirt and snapped a photo.

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