HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Mississippi has a new bill under consideration in the upcoming legislative session. State Sen. Joey Fillingane filed the bill in January to increase punishment for invasion of privacy from a misdemeanor to a felony.
According to Fillingane, this motion was a reaction to an investigation of several violations of privacy by a former University of Southern Mississippi employee Quandom Benn in June 2014.
Benn was arrested and charged in November for seven misdemeanor counts of stalking and seven counts of disturbing the peace.
A conversation with one of Benn's victims prompted Fillingane to support an update to Mississippi's current voyeurism law.
"It was a very negative experience at my job when I found out a fellow employee that I trusted was videotaping me inappropriately," said Cabrini Marie Smith, Benn's victim.
Fillingane said he was shocked to hear that with the current privacy laws the university and law enforcement were unable to enact stronger punishment.
"I was dumbfounded," Fillingane said. "... assuming all those facts were true, that there was only a misdemeanor crime that had occurred."
If the law passes a conviction could result in a maximum of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. If the victim is a child under the age of 16 the maximum penalty would increase to 10 years in prison.
"Even though we are early in the session, so far I have heard nothing but positive things about the bill," Fillingane said.
According to Fillingane, the case has been turned over to the Forrest County Justice Court.