Evangeline Gomez rebuts Finley Op ed
October 21, 2014
To the editor:

In an article updated October 20, 2014 in the Joplin Independent titled "Cellphone voyeurs get court approval ", Laura Finley, Ph.D, states that I engaged in “slut shaming” women because I allegedly stated in an interview on Fox & Friends during the morning of October 5, 2013, that women who were photographed in a recent case in “Massachusetts”, involving an alleged violation of a voyeurism statute, “made a choice to wear certain clothes and thus deserved no legal protection.”

Obviously, Ms. Finley never listened to the interview or reviewed the transcript because the case under discussion was decided by a Federal Judge in Washington D.C. and had nothing to do with the case in Massachusetts, Ms. Finely describes in her article. But this is the least important of the inaccuracies foisted upon the reader by Ms. Finley. During the Fox & Friends interview, for which I was asked to provide a legal analysis of the Washington D.C. federal judge’s decision, I said that the criminal defendant accused of taking inappropriate pictures of women at the Lincoln Memorial was "absolutely wrong in doing this" and that his behavior was "socially condemnable". I further stated that "there are laws" that apply to this criminal case. I then provided an analysis of the Washington D.C. federal judge’s opinion, where the judge found that the Washington D.C. voyeurism law did not apply in this particular case because the defendant was taking photos of things that were readily visible at the Lincoln Memorial where there was " no expectation of privacy" as specifically required by state law.

As an officer of the court, I have an ethical obligation to correct unfair criticism of judges, for example when people misquote or misinterpret a judge’s legal opinion. The Washington D.C. federal judge in her decision found that the defendant did not take “upskirt” photos, as defined by state law, as they were not photos of body parts that the women did not intend to expose. Thus the defendant did not engage in “upskirting.” The Federal Judge wrote: ”As noted above, the pictures Mr. Cleveland took on June 19, 2014 do not capture hidden parts of the body, but rather portions of the body exposed by the individual’s voluntary physical positioning and the fit and fabric of the clothing worn. The images captured were not ‘incidental glimpses’ and in fact were images that were exposed to the public without requiring any extraordinary lengths, or in fact any lengths whatsoever, to view.” I said that if we want to criminalize this behavior we have "to go back to the lawmakers who left out certain words" from the applicable statute. I never said that the women did not deserve legal protection, nor did I say the judge in this case held such an opinion. As Ms. Finley’s article seems to show (if any of it can be trusted) the decision is part of a well-established pattern of decisions holding that traditional voyeurism statutes do not prohibit photography in public places, as offensive as that photography may be.

I was giving a legal analysis as to whether a Washington D.C. federal judge had correctly applied the existing law in a particular case. The fact that I believe that this Judge, who happens to be a woman renowned for her work in protecting children from abuse and neglect, correctly applied the law does not imply an endorsement of the defendant’s behavior which I described as "condemnable" and which the judge characterized in her opinion as “repellant.” We live in a nation of laws and, as Ms. Finley knows, criminal laws need to be clear in prohibiting particular behaviors and/or acts, before our society can deprive citizens of their freedom and destroy their lives.

Since all of the information I have provided is obvious from the tape of the interview which is readily available on the internet and which Ms. Finley obviously referred to in her article of October 20, 2014, I can draw no conclusion other than that Ms. Finley’s article is an effort to deliberately misstate my views to cast me in a false light and defame me.

For these reasons, I am asking your publication to immediately withdraw and correct the statements attributed to me. If the changes are not made within the next 72 hours (3 days), I will assign this matter to my attorney. Thank you for your cooperation.

Evangeline Gomez, Esq., Jersey City, NJ

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