Secret videos lead to charges

'Upskirt' camera

August 16, 2002
By Alan Cairns
Toronto Sun

The self-admitted producer and distributor of videos showing "upskirt" views of young Toronto women has been charged with mischief and possession of property obtained by crime.

Eugene Andre Francois, 40, who claims to have sold the videos to voyeurs around the world, was released from custody last night on a promise to appear in court next month.

But his Canamvideo Web site still offers the videos.

Police have confirmed that Awesome Upskirts I and II were shot with concealed video cameras in public places including the Eaton Centre, Metro Hall, TTC subways and Chinatown. The videos were shot using a low-level video camera that appears to have been concealed in either a shoe or a bag.

Francois, who moved to St. Thomas after the videos came to light in June, was arrested in Toronto yesterday, Det. Sgt. Paul Gillespie said.

'Violated sexual privacy'

"These videos are intrusive and violated the sexual privacy of the female victims, who have a right to enjoy public property without having their sexual privacy secretly invaded and exploited," Gillespie said.

The upskirt videos were the subject of complaints from the Catholic Civil Rights League and community activist Val Smith.

Gillespie said the investigation was initially problematic because none of the alleged victims had complained to police.

"We did a great deal of work with the Crown's office and we are satisfied with our investigation," Gillespie said.

Francois said in June that the footage -- which he described in promotional material as the product "hard and sometimes dangerous work" -- was shot in Toronto two years ago by others, whom he refuses to name.

"Basically, from my understanding, anything shot in public is legal," he said, adding he was puzzled at the "silly" fuss.