Window Mystery – Peeping Tom or Lewd Display?
Herman’s Hermits, a British Invasion band had a sugary hit called “Silhouettes” that went like this: “Took a walk and passed your house late last night, All the shades were pulled and drawn way down tight, From within, the dim light cast two silhouettes on the shade, Oh what a lovely couple they made.”
Georgia’s Peeping Tom statute covers “peeps” through an opening when one is on the premises of another for the purpose of spying on them. But what if you are just walking down the sidewalk? No intent, no crime.
Is it stalking? OCGA 16-5-90 says: “A person commits the offense of stalking when he or she follows, places under surveillance, or contacts another person at or about a place or places without the consent of the other person for the purpose of harassing and intimidating the other person.” Here, the former lover does seem to be surveilling his ex. Add in the lyric: “Lost control and rang your bell, I was sore, Let me in or else I’ll beat down your door.” Yep, he might have stepped over the line. Stalking has been going on for eons, but became vigorously prosecuted after O.J. Simpson. Millenials don’t get the reference.
But the lyric goes on to say: “When two strangers who have been two silhouettes on the shade, Said to my shock ‘you’re on the wrong block!’” Opps, wrong house, no stalking.
Happy conclusion: “Rushed out to your house with wings on my feet, Loved you like I’d never loved you my sweet, Vowed that you and I would be two silhouettes on the shade, All of our days, two silhouettes on the shade.”
So now I’m wondering if we’ve got a public indeceny claim coming on. OCGA 16-6-8 is every cop’s nightmare and every snoopy neighbor’s dream: “(a) A person commits the offense of public indecency when he or she performs any of the following acts in a public place:
- (1) An act of sexual intercourse;
- (2) A lewd exposure of the sexual organs;
- (3) A lewd appearance in a state of partial or complete nudity; or
- (4) A lewd caress or indecent fondling of the body of another person.”
Does the shadow of two lovers embracing cast upon a window shade constitute a “lewd caress or indecent fondling” under the statute? If you’re the busybody neighbor, probably does. If you are the responding cop, maybe not.
And since the conduct is in their home, not in a public place, does that change the outcome? No, because in the case of Hester v. State, the Court held: “Evidence that the defendant would come home from work, pull off clothes and become exposed in front of the window “[j]ust to get a thrill” was sufficient to support conviction for public indecency although the act was committed in a private residence.” So doing something on private land which is viewable by the public still violates the statute. Keep that in mind ya’ll.
Trivia: Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin played guitar on this one for the Hermits.