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Voyeur case resuming after appellate decision

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Mike Heine
January 23, 2008
— A California man suspected of voyeurism near the UW-Whitewater campus is due back in court Wednesday, Jan. 30.

The Wisconsin District 2 Court of Appeals in November dismissed three felony charges filed against Christopher E. Townsend in 2005 for capturing an image of nudity.


It will be his first time back in court since the decision.


Townsend, now a 29-year-old who once lived in Whitewater, is suspected of secretly videotaping four nude women while in his apartment or the women’s apartments close to campus, according to court documents.


He had been charged with four felonies for capturing an image of nudity and four misdemeanor charges of invasion of privacy in Walworth County court.


The appeals court dismissed three of the felonies because of the broad dates listed in the criminal complaint. The dates the recordings allegedly occurred overlapped a change in Wisconsin laws.


Townsend was charged with a newer law that was not in effect when the alleged crimes first might have happened, according to the court’s decision.


“We reject the state’s argument that it is simply a matter for the jury to determine when the crimes occurred and what statute Townsend violated,” the decision reads. “That flies in the face of the requirement that the defendant be apprised of the crime that he or she is charged with in order to be able to prepare for a defense.”


The court upheld the four misdemeanor charges, and Townsend did not appeal one of the felony charges.


According to the original complaint, a woman found two videotapes that depicted her and others nude.


None of the women identified in the tapes ever gave Townsend permission to record them, and they never noticed video recording equipment in their homes, according to the complaint.


The alleged recordings occurred between late 2001 and 2003, according to the complaint.



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