This morning’s Boston
Globe reports on the criminal prosecution and college disciplinary
proceeding simultaneously pending against two Wentworth Institute of Technology
male students who had the bad sense (and bad grace) to videotape two female
Massachusetts College of Art and Design students having an intimate moment in
bed in a dormitory within all-too-easy sight range. The video ended up on
Wentworth’s file sharing system and was widely disseminated around the city, although
it is believed that a friend of the videographers was responsible for that.
Massachusetts law does not criminalize the
surreptitious video recording of unsuspecting people; currently, only
secret audio recording is a crime.
does have a more general “peeping Tom” statute that has formed the basis for
the pending prosecution. And Wentworth, being a private college, can penalize
such conduct under any number of rubrics. So, it’s pretty clear that these two
morons will not get away with their indiscretion.
one has to admit that defendant David Siemiesz, one of the Wentworth juniors
being prosecuted, had a bit of a point when he told the Globe’s Maria Cramer: “This all would have never happened if their
windows were closed” and if the shades were drawn and the lights turned out.
Sometimes a peeping Tom takes affirmative steps to evade another person’s
privacy measures, but in this case the viewing was easy.
reminded of an attempt by the administration of the University of Pennsylvania
a few years ago to discipline a student who, from his dorm window, photographed
a student couple who were making love in a dorm room across a courtyard. The lovebirds
not only were taking no steps to protect their privacy, but were seemingly
reveling in the exhibitionism of the moment, as the female of the couple was
pushed up against the window while the male did his thing – all obviously meant
for the eyes of the passers-by in the busy courtyard below.Campus
disciplinary officials, facing an outcry in support of the student
photographer, dropped the investigation.
Wentworth case seems to be in the middle: The two women were not seemingly
trying to advertise their tryst, but they did not take adequate and simple
steps to try to protect their privacy either. The two “Toms” did not have to
take any extraordinary steps in order to peep. So it’s not quite as clear-cut a
criminal “peeping Tom” case as one might suppose, or wish. Still, the betting
here is that Wentworth will take severe action – if for no other reason than
that the two male students embarrassed the institution. But the prosecutors
likely will be a bit more moderate.