Indiana Court of Appeals overturns conviction of man who took up-skirt photos of girls at mall

Judges take issue with wording of statute

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana Court of Appeals has thrown out the conviction of a man who used a hidden camera to take video up the skirts of girls at Castleton Square Mall.

David Delagrange, of Fort Wayne, was convicted in 2011 of four counts of attempted child exploitation after he used a camera hidden in his shoe and an elaborate recording system to take videos underneath the dresses of a 15-year-old and three 17-year-olds.

But Friday's ruling dismisses those convictions on the ground that the statute at the time referred to "sexual conduct by a child."

"(There) was no evidence any of the minors were involved in the type of conduct required by the child exploitation statute," the ruling reads. In order to convict, "each child must have been exhibiting her uncovered genitals with the intent to satisfy sexual desires."

In a dissenting opinion, one of the judges wrote that he believes the language was misinterpreted.

"(The statute) cannot be interpreted to require that a child be an active participant in the exhibition of her genitals or that the child have the intent to satisfy sexual desires. Such an interpretation improperly focuses the elements of the crime on the actions of the child and undermines the very foundation of the statute, which was designed to protect children," he judge wrote.

The court of appeals had previously dismissed some voyeurism counts originally brought against Delagrange.

Delagrange, who was also convicted of resisting arrest, had been sentenced to four years in prison with three years suspended.

"We will review the Court of Appeals majority opinion to determine next steps, since the court’s dissenting opinion agreed with the state that the defendant’s actions amounted to child exploitation," the Indiana Attorney General's Office said in a statement. "Because of this case, the Legislature changed state law to make it clearer to any future perpetrators that such actions are a crime in Indiana."

More: Read the court ruling

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