Los Angeles police are investigating U.S. model Dani Mathers after she took a photo of a woman who was nude in a gym change room and posted it to social media.
Mathers, who was Playboy’s Playmate of the Year 2015, could be charged with a misdemeanour offence, police said. In Canada, Mathers’ actions could fetch jail time, according to legal expert David TS Fraser.
“In Canada this would be a crime.”
“We have in the last number of years…amended the criminal code to create an offence of voyeurism,” said Fraser, a Halifax lawyer who specializes in privacy law.
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“So anybody who would take a photograph in a locker room, here you would reasonably expect people to be undressed. Taking a photograph is an offence if it’s done without the person’s consent, and it’s done kind of covertly.”
On top of that, possessing the photo and sharing the photo could net two additional charges, he said.
The 29-year-old has already lost a job on a radio show and been banned from ever returning to any location of the gym chain, LA Fitness, where she snapped the shot. Last week she posted a photo to Snapchat of a woman standing nude in a shower area of a gym alongside a caption “If I can’t unsee this then you can’t either!” and a photo of herself with a shocked expression.
Mathers later apologized, deleted the post and claimed she only meant to send it to one friend, and she didn’t understand how the social media app worked. Needless to say the damage was done, and the photo has since been shared widely.
The model has been skewered online for the violating and unethical decision, and has deleted her social media accounts.
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The Los Angeles Police Department has received a report of “illegal distribution” of the image, and detectives are investigating, Capt. Andrew Newman confirmed to the LA Times. The image was reported by LA Fitness officials, he said.
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The fitness chain posted a message July 15 on its Facebook page regarding member privacy.
“Her behavior is appalling and puts every member’s privacy at risk. We ended her membership and she cannot use any club. It’s not just our rule, it’s common decency.”
One catch with the investigation is finding the woman in the photo, and the unnamed woman is asked to contact police regarding the matter.
“Without a victim, we can’t go forward,” said LAPD spokeswoman Officer Jenny Houser.
The subject of the picture would not necessarily be required to get involved to proceed with charges in Canada.
“In Canada, the police don’t have to wait for somebody to press charges, police can go ahead on their own if there’s enough evidence in their possession.”
Mathers’ own words, admitting she took and posted the photo, could be used as evidence against her, Fraser said.
“There would be enough of a basis to proceed with charges.”
In Canada someone convicted of such charges could face jail time, a fine or a conditional sentence, Fraser said.
Global News has contacted the LAPD for further comment, but did not receive a response by time of publication.