- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 29, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Legislature is on track to approve a bill this session that would add penalties for people accused of peeping on others.

The House voted 97-0 Tuesday in support of the legislation, which would include new language and penalties in Iowa law regarding scenarios where a person may be caught secretly watching or recording another person in a private space.

The bill expands language over what would constitute an invasion of privacy and trespassing and increases the penalties. A person accused of peeping under the proposed new rules could face an aggravated misdemeanor or a serious misdemeanor.

The bill passed unanimously in the Senate in February, and new language added in the House means it will return to that chamber before it can reach Gov. Terry Branstad.

Current Iowa law regarding invasion of privacy says a peeping victim must be nude or partially nude. Supporters of the bill say that is too ambiguous to convict in some cases.

Ruth Lapointe, 24, said she and several other women were victims of peeping by a landlord in Iowa City in 2012. She said she and the other women were expected to prove conditions under the invasion of privacy law such as their level of clothing and whether the landlord was aroused.

“Victims, the burden of proof shouldn’t have to be on them to prove this in court,” she said.

Lapointe is a clerk for Rep. Chris Hall, D-Sioux City, and she has spoken in support of the legislation. She said she’s hopeful the measure will pass this session, but there is more ambiguity in Iowa law that should be changed. She noted her landlord still holds the same job despite his conviction in the case.

“There’s more work to be done,” she said.

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