Upskirting Offences in New South Wales

A 28-year-old high school science teacher has pleaded guilty to secretly filming female students, after being revealed to have secretly taken videos up their skirts.

Eric Wong’s activities were uncovered after a female student bumped into a whiteboard and discovered a hidden mobile phone which was recording with the camera pointed up.

This occurred in December 2022, with Wong arrested a few days later.

His laptop was seized by officers who reportedly found 90 videos of female students in year 10 – 12.

They also seized another computer in which they uncovered 300 photos.

The images included ‘up-skirt’ photos and images which focused on the female students’ breasts.

The videos reportedly show Wong walking next to or behind the female students and discreetly positioning his phone to film their private parts.

The police facts tendered describe how: “in some video files the accused can be seen talking to the female victims and then glance toward his mobile phone (which) is then repositioned, making sure he is capturing the stated areas of the female body.”

The offences occurred at Cammeraygal High School in Crows Nest, on Sydney’s north shore.

Media reports note that Mr Wong’s LinkedIn profile detailed that he had worked as a chemistry and physics teacher for the NSW Department of Education for six years.

He has been suspended without pay by the school during this period.

A spokesperson for the NSW Department of Education said: “we are deeply concerned by this matter and relieved it is approaching a conclusion in the courts.”

They noted that: “we have been working closely with NSW Police since the allegations were made. The teacher was immediately removed from the school and suspended without pay since his arrest.

“The safety and welfare of students are our top priorities and wellbeing support has been provided to students at the school.”

He has pleaded guilty to two counts of filming a person’s private parts without consent.

Wong is due to be sentenced on 10 May 2023 at Hornsby Local Court.

Filming a person’s private parts, without consent, is an offence as outlined in section 91L of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

The elements that the prosecution must prove are that:

  1. The accused person filmed another person’s private parts,
  2. The filming was for the purpose of obtaining, or enabling another person to obtain, sexual arousal or sexual gratification,
  3. The act was done in circumstances in which a reasonable person would reasonably expect the person’s private parts could not be filmed,
  4. It was without the consent of the person being filmed, and
  5. The accused person knew that the person being filmed did not consent to being filmed for that purpose.

Private parts are defined under the Act as a person’s genital area or anal area, whether bare or covered by underwear, or the breasts of a female person (or transgender or intersex person identifying as female), whether or not the breasts are sexually developed.

A maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment and/or a $11,000 fine is applicable.

This offence is ‘summary’ which means it will be dealt with in the Local Court.

An aggravated form of the offence is included in section 91L(3), which is applicable where this conduct is committed in circumstances in which:

  • the person whom the offender filmed was a child under the age of 16 years, or
  • the offender constructed or adapted the fabric of any building for the purpose of facilitating the commission of the offence.

An example of where an offender constructs or adapts the fabric of a building includes where a person installs a hidden camera or image recording device in a wall or constructs a ‘peephole’ which is utilised to film the person on the other side.

A maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment is applicable.

This is classified as a ‘table 1’ offence which is to be dealt with summarily unless the prosecutor or accused person elects for the matter to be taken to the District Court.

In practice, this means that it will ordinarily be dealt with in the Local Court.

In the Local Court, the maximum penalty is instead limited to an $11,000 fine and/or 2 years imprisonment for a single offence.

About Poppy Morandin

Poppy Morandin is the managing law clerk and an integral part of the team of criminal lawyers at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia . She's also a part of CDLA's content article production team. Poppy is passionate about law reform and criminal justice.

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