Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signs 'upskirt photo' law - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signs 'upskirt photo' law

(Source: Councilwoman Debbie Johnson) (Source: Councilwoman Debbie Johnson)
PORT WENTWORTH, GA (WTOC) -

A new law officially signed Monday by Georgia's governor makes taking pictures up someone's skirt a crime.

A Port Wentworth councilwoman knows all too well about the need for this law and so does the governor. She was his special guest for the signing. That's because someone took an illicit picture of her that ended up on Facebook.

She said today is a day she will celebrate for a long time. She said women will no longer be victimized in this way without punishment.

"The toll that it has taken on me, I can't even put it into words,” said Councilwoman Debbie Johnson.

Johnson said the photo tore her self-esteem and destroyed the way she looked at herself and that's not all it did.

"I try to see the good in folks before I see the bad. This really showed me that you've got to be careful everywhere you are,” said Johnson.

Fast forward to today, and she's still emotional, but not for the same reason as before.

"I'm just so happy and elated today. I've got a wonderful response and it's just been a wonderful day,” said Johnson.

Johnson's story begins last August—just one month after the Georgia Court of Appeals ruled pictures like this legal. Chatham County deputies launched an investigation shortly after the photo popped up on Facebook.

Former councilman Ernie Stanhope admitted to taking it. He then shared it with the mayor who never told Johnson.

"I as a leader of this great city am ashamed of what has transpired. I further I want to publicly express my sincerest apologies to councilwoman Johnson for what she and her family have gone through,” said Mayor Glenn Jones. He offered that apology at a September council meeting.

Not before Johnson's supporters organized a sit-in and demanded his resignation. Mayor Jones refused to resign, and the sheriff's office did not press charges.

Shortly after, Johnson set out on a mission to pass a law making what happened to her and incidents like it illegal.

"If you believe in something, if you're passionate about something, if you don't want it to happen to the next person, that's who we got to remember, if you want to stop something from happening to someone else, then you got to stand up and speak about it,” said Johnson.

Monday, it was made official. It was a long-awaited ending to a chapter Johnson calls one of the worst of her life.

Johnson isn't done yet. She wants to make this upskirt state law a law for the entire nation. She hopes her stand encourages other women to speak up and fight for themselves when they know something isn't right.

Someone caught taking a picture like this could face felony charges. In addition, a prison sentence between one and five years, a fine up to $10,000, or both. A judge can also downgrade charges to a misdemeanor.

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