State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, filed a bill today that would make it a state jail felony to "lewdly violate" a person's privacy in a place like a public restroom.
Coleman said he filed the measure after learning about a Houston man who had spied on a mother and daughter using a restaurant restroom. The man, who was an ex-con and had been charged twice with indecency with a child and more than a dozen times with criminal trespass, was arrested. Police found duct tape, a sock with a pacifier, a plastic bag and a recording device inside a briefcase the man carried. But they could only charge him with another criminal trespass violation. That crime carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail.
"That's a serious flaw in our system," Coleman said in a statement announcing the filing of HB 2822. "In this situation, the punishment didn't fit the crime. As the father of a young daughter, I'm appalled."
Under Coleman's bill, lewdly violating a person's privacy in public restroom or shower could result in a two-year state jail sentence. Multiple offenses would result in the violator being placed on the sex offender registry.