The Supreme Court of Canada says a London, Ont., teacher who secretly filmed female students’ chests with a camera pen is guilty of voyeurism.
A conviction has been entered against Ryan Jarvis.
At issue was whether the students had a reasonable expectation of privacy when they were being secretly recorded on school property.
In a unanimous decision Thursday morning, the top court said students doing normal activities at school don’t give up their privacy rights, despite the existence of recording technology.
Writing for the bench, Chief Justice Richard Wagner said privacy is the “concept of freedom from unwanted scrutiny, intrusion or attention.”
“The use of a cell phone to capture upskirt images of women on public transit, the use of a drone to take high-resolution photographs of unsuspecting sunbathers at a public swimming pool, and the surreptitious video recording of a woman breastfeeding in a quiet corner of a coffee shop would all raise similar privacy concerns,” his decision noted.
Wagner did, however, write that privacy is “not an all-or-nothing-concept.”
Back in 2015, the original trial judge determined that Jarvis had violated the students’ privacy by using a so-called spy pen to secretly record their chests and cleavage. But Justice Andrew Goodman wasn’t satisfied the videos were filmed for a sexual purpose, and acquitted Jarvis.
The Ontario Court of Appeal went another way. Most of the judges on that bench ruled that Jarvis did act with sexual intent, but still upheld his acquittal, arguing the students had no reasonable expectation of privacy at school.
That court pointed to the presence of 24-hour surveillance security cameras in and around the school, “which were clearly visible to everyone.”