Peep porn shot in T.O.
Concealed cameras aim up skirts
By Alan Cairns
June 13, 2002
Secretly taken videos that spy up the skirts of young Toronto women are being sold "worldwide" on the Internet.
The voyeuristic "Upskirts" videos, filmed surreptitiously in public places such as the Eaton Centre, TTC stations, Metro Hall and on city streets, show thighs, buttocks, panties and sometimes the faces of the women themselves.
The videos, offered for sale by Toronto-based Canamvideo, were filmed using a low-level video camera concealed in either a shoe or a bag.
Hundreds of women are oblivious to the filming as they ride escalators and walk in the downtown, Yorkville or Chinatown.
Other up-the-skirt Canamvideo images posted previously on the net showed up-the-skirt views of girls in Catholic school kilts walking in the Eaton Centre.
"These videos are not just crude and rude. They constitute a form of sexual assault. They are not consensual," says community activist Val Smith, who four months ago reported the homegrown videos to Toronto police and demanded action.
"Women should be warned about sexual deviants creeping the streets of Toronto taking pictures up their skirts, and the perpetrators and distributors should be prosecuted," Smith wrote in a Feb. 18 letter to Toronto police, Ontario Attorney General David Young and Scott Newark, special counsel for Ontario's Office for Victims of Crime.
Smith said the victim's office arranged a meeting with police. She hoped an investigation would ensue, but Toronto police have yet to act.
Det.-Sgt. Paul Gillespie, of the Toronto Police sex crimes unit, says police are limited by outdated laws that have not kept up with advances in technology.
"Surreptitious, obviously. Is it immoral? Absolutely. Is it wrong? Absolutely. Is it illegal -- that being the $64,000 question?" said Gillespie.
He said police are leery to lay a "catch-all" mischief charge because they don't want to set a "bad precedent."
While stressing an investigation is taking place, he said police need an updated or amended criminal code charge consistent with today's technological reality.
Two separate volumes of the Awesome Upskirts videos are available from Canamvideo on the Internet for $34.95.
The company advertises that the videos "are not ripoffs" of other people's "hard and sometimes dangerous work."
Canamvideo owner, Eugene Francois, who sometimes goes by the name Gene Frank, says the footage was shot in Toronto two years ago by others, whom he refuses to name.
"Basically, from my understanding, anything shot in public is legal," said Francois, adding he's puzzled at the "silly" fuss by people who have never complained to him personally.
He says there is nothing immoral about being a voyeur and doesn't believe surreptitious filming is unfair.
"If you look at the tape, most of these girls want to be watched," he said. "Nobody's being hurt. It's pretty damned innocent, really, if you look at it."
Val Smith vehemently disagrees. "They are not consensual," said Smith.
Citing Toronto schoolgirl killer Paul Bernardo's teenage voyeurism, Smith said it can lead to more serious conduct.
In her February complaint to authorities about Canamvideo, Smith attached a November 2000 report from the Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL), which refers to "obvious footage of girls from St. Joseph Wellesley and Loretto College" schools dressed in plaid kilts that were posted on the Internet.
"At minimum, charges for mischief should be laid ... and the press notified to warn the public," said the CCRL report.
The CCRL said in a prepared statement this week that it is not aware of the police taking action on the Catholic kilts case.
The CCRL wants to see current laws enforced, or new laws introduced to protect "real Catholic schoolgirls" from objectification and abuse.
Law tough on perverts
Mischief charge worked in 3 cases
While police are looking at better law to address the Canamvideo "Upskirts" investigation, it appears current mischief laws have worked fine.
At least three cases of secret videotaping in the Toronto area have resulted in three guilty pleas to mischief charges.
George Walter Campbell, 63, dubbed the "Shoecam Man" by the media and described as "the Peeping Tom of the 20th Century" by a Crown prosecutor, pleaded guilty in November 1997 to hiding a tiny video camera in a pair of shoes and taping 26 women at the CNE the previous summer.
Campbell, who was sentenced to 18 months of probation and given 150 hours of community service, was called a "classic pervert" by prosecutor Calvin Barry.
A year ago January, volunteer fire chief Warren Campbell, 46, was convicted for using a pinhole camera to videotape two girls aged 12 and 13 changing in a swimming pool change room at his Cannington, Ont. home.
Campbell was fined $500 and given 12 months probation.
In December, lab technician Michael Glass, 36, of Newcastle, Ont., pleaded guilty to filming up a woman's miniskirt from under the spectator stands at the Molson Indy last summer. Glass was given six months probation and had to pay $500 to charity.
Judge Bruno Cavion said the filming was a serious "invasion of the woman's privacy."
Need to enforce
Reached last night by The Toronto Sun, Scott Newark with the Ontario Office for Victims of Crime, agreed a new law is needed, but he wondered why the current mischief laws could not be applied to the Awesome Upskirts videotapes.
"We need to make better laws to deal with this, but we also need to enforce the existing criminal laws so that people don't have to put up with this ... I think most people in Toronto or Ontario would agree that this is a priority," Newark said.