Local News

New Law Makes Secret Peeping A Felony

Posted December 1, 2003

— Using a camera for peeping used to mean a misdemeanor for violators. Now, they may want to think twice about commiting that crime. On Monday, state lawmakers made secret peeping with a camera a felony.

Beth Minion knows what it feels like to be the victim of a peeping tom. Minion was one of dozens of people secretly caught on tape at a

Hillsborough tanning salon

. Investigators say owner Billy Apple hid small cameras inside the rooms and taped clients while they tanned.

Even though Apple faces close to 100 counts of secret peeping, only a few are considered felonies because some of the victims were under age. The rest of the charges are just misdemeanors.

"I just felt a little bit violated at first," she said. "It kind of upset me that it was just a misdemeanor. It's like a slap on the hand."

Hoping to change that, prosecutor Kayley Taber lobbied state lawmakers. She took her case to the state Legislature after prosecuting

John Whitt

, who is accused of secretly videotaping UNC students undressing in a sorority house.

"It just seemed to me the punishment should fit the crime," Taber said. "You ought to feel like you can be in your own home with your blinds pulled and feel safe from someone sneaking up to the window, videotaping you through a tiny crack in the blind pull."

Before the law was passed, most convicted peepers could walk away from court on probation. Now, a conviction can mean a year behind bars.

The new law also makes it illegal to secretly peep on males. Under the old law, only females were considered victims.

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