Two Bucks County lawmakers want stiffer charges and penalties for those facing upskirting charges.
State Reps. Wendy Ullman, D-Bucks, and Craig Staats, R-Bucks, announced Tuesday they have introduced H.B. 2453, which would increase the charges that can be brought against teachers and adults who victimize students and minors through upskirting — the taking of photographs under a girl’s skirt and then posting them online.
The measure would make the offense a third-degree felony for a first violation and a second-degree felony for subsequent offenses.
“Upskirting is an extremely traumatic form of sexual abuse that violates a victim’s sense of autonomy, personal safety, trust and very selfhood,” Ullman said. “Our legislation seeks to provide justice for victims by making the punishment fit the crime.”
Currently, the only criminal charges that can be brought against the victimizer are misdemeanors, similar to the charges for shoplifting – up to one year in prison and up to a $2,500 fine in exchange for a lifetime of trauma.
Ullman and Staats pointed to a upskirting incident that happened to several young women in a school district that they share, where a male teacher took “upskirt” photographs and posted them to illicit websites.
Francis Reppert, Jr, 26 of Quakertown, an ex-Palisaides School District teacher and tennis coach, was the man charged for taking those upskirting images of female students and sharing them, earlier this year.
The issue of upskirting has gained national and international coverage over the last few years, with the United Kingdom, criminalizing the behavior in recent years.
Nationally, Ohio and California and Alabama have put upskirting laws on the books in recent years.
“These are selfish, humiliating acts against innocent children, and the current penalties are woefully insufficient,” Staats said. “It is time the perpetrators of child sex crimes suffer real consequences for their actions and this bill helps to achieve that.”
The measure has been refereed to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration.