Va. court upholds conviction for taking of nude video, rejects ‘no expectation of privacy’ argument

Virginia’s Court of Appeals has confirmed the Arlington County conviction of a man for taking a nude video of a woman, rejecting his argument that she had no expectation of privacy because they were in a relationship.

A jury convicted Moussa Moise Haba in October 2019 of unlawful creation of an image of another, and he was sentenced to 10 months and 15 days.

In July 2017, a student from Saudi Arabia living in Arlington and studying at a local university met Haba online, and the two began a relationship.

According to the appeals ruling, Haba had become controlling shortly thereafter.

“He told her that when he said he loved her, she had to respond in kind,” and that Haba “claimed to have ‘videos’ of the victim, and he threatened to reveal them ‘to the Saudi authorities.'”

In August 2017, Haba used his smartphone to record the woman for four minutes, while they were in her bedroom.

“In the video, the victim held a blanket in front of her naked body. She did not consent to the recording and pleaded with” Haba to stop recording. He “threatened to hit her and repeatedly ordered her to ‘obey’ him and drop the blanket,” according to the ruling.

During Haba’s trial, the woman worried the videos might provide evidence that she had a relationship with a man. “She explained that Saudi Arabian culture prohibited women from having boyfriends,” according to the ruling.

Haba was indicted for abduction and unlawful creation of an image. The jury cleared him of the abduction charge.

“He argued that the evidence did not prove that the victim had a reasonable expectation of privacy because they were in a relationship, in a private space, and he did not record her ‘secretly,'” Chief Judge Marla Graff Decker wrote in the appeals panel’s decision.

Haba’s attorneys argued she knew he was there when she undressed.

However, the panel ruled there was a difference between seeing someone undressed and taking video of them.

“At the time the recording began, the victim was shielding her naked body from him and the camera with a blanket,” wrote Decker. “When the appellant refused to stop and continued his demands to remove the blanket, she even considered walking out of the apartment but did not do so, in part because she was naked.”

“The fact that she may have permitted him to see her naked before he started recording is irrelevant here. She covered her body, clearly communicated her desire not to be video recorded, and made a reasonable attempt to keep her naked body from view.”

The court affirmed the Arlington Court’s judgment and sentence.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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