Oregon Man Admits He Took Upskirt Photos of 13-Year-Old Girl in a Target…and a Judge Lets Him Walk (VIDEO)

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An Oregon man was acquitted Thursday on charges of invasion of privacy and encouraging child sex abuse, after he admitted to taking “upskirt” pictures of a 13-year-old girl.

Although the judge, Washington County Judge Eric Butterfield, cited the behavior as “lewd” and “appalling,”  he ruled that there was nothing legally preventing 61-year-old Patrick Buono from photographing the minor.

“From a legal point of view, which unfortunately today is my job to enforce, he didn’t do anything wrong,” Butterfield said.

Buono approached the girl on Jan. 3, 2014, while shopping at a Target in Beaverton, OR. While the girl was unaware she was being photographed, an eyewitness spotted Buono and reported him. The incident was also caught on store surveillance.

According to Reuters, the girl, now 14, had testified against Buono during the trial and was disappointed by the judge’s decision.

“She’s a great kid,” Washington County Deputy District Attorney Paul Maloney said. “She’s got a great family and what she did the other day was really brave and I’m proud of her. I think she’s a mature, young girl and she’s doing the best she can with this.”

Her father, William Hergenhan, told local NBC affiliate KGW that Butterfield’s ruling was outrageous.

“Well, if you think from a practical sense some man like that can go take a picture under this little girl’s skirt, I mean, any parent would say that’s not right,” Hergenhan said. “Something needs to change.”

Buono’s defense attorney, Mark Lawrence, argued that his client should be acquitted because the incident occurred in a public place and the girl was wearing underwear.

“These things are not only seen but video-recorded,” Lawrence said. “It’s incumbent on us as citizens to cover up whatever we don’t want filmed in public places.

Oregon has some of the weakest sex crime laws in the nation. Last month, Bradley McCollum of Beaverton pled guilty to two burglary charges and two counts of “invasion of personal privacy” after being caught videotaping his underage neighbor without her consent for four years. He will not have to register as a sex offender after his two-year jail sentence is finished.

The legality of “upskirting” has been addressed in several states. Lawmakers in Wisconsin are currently working to make the act a felony, while it has already been criminalized in Massachusetts.

Last year, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals cast aside parts of a state law that banned the act, citing the First Amendment right to free speech.

Editor’s Note: This article was edited for content after publication.

—Courtesy of IJ Review

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