Students at the University of Hawaii at Manoa learned this week that a man has been taking candid photos of women around campus and posting them to a porn site.
"I felt so violated! I've never had that happen to me before," Chaslene Halog, a senior, told Hawaii News Now.
According to a note posted on the school's website, the campus public safety department received multiple reports that described an Asian man in his mid-20s taking the photos. While the note said the photos had been removed from the site and "persons of interest have been identified," the school declined to provide a name.
He photographed more than 140 women, Hawaii News Now reported.
While the man's actions might be unsavory, they're probably not illegal, since the women were all clothed and photographed in public spaces.
John Banzhaf, a public interest law professor at George Washington University, said it's likely not a crime to take a picture of someone in a public place, "particularly if they're not doing anything horribly embarrassing."
But, he said, the women might be able to make a civil case for defamation or false light. If someone saw the pictures on the website and assumed the women had willingly posed, for example, they might have cause for action, Banzhaf said.
In one case, a court decided that having an actor's photo on the cover of Playgirl magazine near suggestive headlines could create the false impression that the magazine included naked photos of the actor.
The website where the photos were posted isn’t likely liable in any way either.
"One thing is clear," Banzhaf said. "People who put up websites are virtually immune from lawsuits if somebody puts something on their website."
Although the photos have been removed from the site, Banzhaf said it's likely because the site didn't want to deal with the "furor" they created, not because of any legal obligation.
A university spokesman told Hawaii News Now that the school's legal team was looking into the possibility of legal action and said that if the man is a student, he could face expulsion.
Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.