An Arlington man has been found guilty of “unlawful filming,” a Class 1 misdemeanor, after taking an unauthorized topless photo of his now-ex girlfriend while she was sleeping.
A jury sentenced Trevor Frye, 28, to 40 days in the Arlington County jail and a $2,500 fine. A judge is expected to finalize the sentencing at a hearing on Dec. 7.
Frye was acquitted on a separate charge of unlawful entry. He had been accused of entering his ex-girlfriend’s apartment and knocking on her bedroom door in the middle of the night, while intoxicated.
At trial, the victim testified that Frye emailed her the topless photo of herself — sleeping in Frye’s bed — following an argument, according to prosecutors. The photo, which was apparently taken with a cell phone, was presented as evidence at the trial. The victim testified that she had a conversation with Frye, prior to the photo being taken, in which she said she specifically said she didn’t want him to take such photos of herself.
Frye, who is not a lawyer, represented himself at trial, according to Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Josh Katcher, who prosecuted the case.
The case attracted significant attention following an ARLnow.com article in May. Though public interest seemed disproportionate to the nature of the alleged crimes, in a statement issued to ARLnow.com Katcher said there’s a larger lesson to be learned from the case.
[Commonwealth’s Attorney] Theo [Stamos] has made it clear that these cases are not to be taken lightly, especially because one isolated incident of unlawful filming can lead to a lifetime of anxiety. One unauthorized picture on the internet is all it takes. And you have to keep it mind, once it’s out there, there is very little we can do to get it back. The genie is out of the bottle. It’s a bell that can never be unrung.
The victim in this case will spend the rest of her life worrying that the picture Mr. Frye unlawfully took will make it onto the internet. Can you imagine if every time you applied for a job, met a significant other’s family, or made a new friend, you had to worry about them looking you up on the internet and finding a topless picture. I think it was that sentiment that caused the jury to impose 40 days [in jail] and the [maximum] fine.
This is a great result. It sends a strong signal to the community that this type of behavior won’t be tolerated.
I have a feeling that we will see more prosecutions for this type of crime as social media becomes more intertwined with our lives, especially considering the ease with which a picture can now be snapped and sent via a smart phone.
Katcher credited Arlington County police officer Melinda Wood and detectives James Stone and Dan Gillenwater for helping to make the case against Frye.
“Without their tireless effort, a tough case would have been impossible, and a criminal would have gone free,” he said.