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STATE SENATE PASSES BILL TARGETING PEEPING TOMS

The State Senate unanimously passed a bill this week that would make surreptitious surveillance a crime.

State Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane, introduced the "Peeping Tom" bill at the request of Niagara County District Attorney Matthew J. Murphy III.

In a nonjury trial last December in Lockport City Court, a man accused of peeking over the wall of a tanning booth at a naked woman was acquitted of disorderly conduct.

Judge William J. Watson ruled the defendant, Phillip C. Lange, committed the act, but no law prohibited it. A state law bans placing hidden cameras where they might catch nudity, but does not cover observing with the naked eye.

If the bill passes the Assembly and is signed by Gov. George E. Pataki, the new crime would carry a maximum 90-day jail term. The penalty for planting a hidden camera is up to four years in prison.

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