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Iowa lawmakers look to clamp down on invasion of privacy offenses

DES MOINES – Sneaking a peek, and recording it on video? You could end up on the wrong end of the law in Iowa under new proposals that would update invasion of privacy laws.

House File 526 creates two additional criminal offenses related to invasion of privacy.

Current law states that a person commits invasion of privacy if the person knowingly views, photographs, or films another person for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of any person if all of the following applies:

  • The other person does not consent or is unable to consent to being viewed, photographed, or filmed.
  • The other person is in a state of full or partial nudity.
  • The other person has a reasonable expectation of privacy while in a state of full or partial nudity.

Current law does not address situations where the victim had given prior consent to being photographed or filmed, but not to dissemination of the photograph or film. This Bill establishes two additional invasion of privacy criminal offenses that would be aggravated misdemeanors punishable by confinement for no more than two years and a fine of at least $625 but no more than $6,250. Those offenses are:

  • Knowingly disseminating, publishing, distributing, posting, or causing the dissemination,publication, distribution, or posting of a photograph or film showing another person in a stateof full or partial nudity or engaged in a sex act without the consent of the other person.
  • Knowingly creating a photograph or film that shows another person in a state of full or partialnudity or engaged in a sex act, if the other person did not or was unable to consent to the creation.

Based upon past history, it is estimated that there would be an annual increase of 15 aggravated misdemeanor convictions under this Bill. Ten of these would result in a prison sentence, and five in jail orders.

NIT reported back in 2014 about an Iowa City landlord who was convicted of spying on his college-age female tenants – one of them from Mason City – who was fined thousands of dollars and sentenced to prison. Elwyn Gene Miller was found guilty of invasion of privacy involving nudity, where the defendant knowingly viewed female tenants in apartments he owns for the purpose of arousing or gratifying his sexual desire. Miller reportedly had drilled holes in bathroom walls and attempted to watch the women as they showered.

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