The highest court in New Hampshire has sanctioned the ability of Men to take photographs of Girls despite the complaints of the Girls and their parents, thus protecting the rights of perverted Men over the right of Girls to move freely in the world.
On July 6, 2011, a female patron at Canobie Lake Park informed a park security officer that she had just left one of the park’s water attractions because she felt uncomfortable seeing an adult male use his cellular telephone to take photographs of young children. The security officer went to the attraction and observed David Lantagne (the “defendant”) , a man undergoing treatment for gender identity disorder, repeatedly moving his cell phone to the side of his leg, aiming it toward other patrons (including juveniles), and then bringing it to a position where he could view it. Most, if not all, of the patrons at the attraction wore bathing suits.
Park security called a Salem police officer to the scene, asked the defendant if he would agree to speak with the officer, and, when he agreed, brought the defendant to the officer. As the park security officer accompanied the defendant to the police officer, the security officer saw the defendant “frantically” tapping the keys of his cell phone. Fearing that the defendant was deleting photographs from his cell phone, the security officer asked the defendant if he would agree to hand him the phone. When the defendant gave his phone to the security officer, the security officer observed the “backsides” of young girls in bathing suits on the phone’s screen.
Park security handed the phone to the police officer, who then asked the defendant for his identification. Meanwhile, the security officer advised the defendant of his observations, and the defendant admitted that he had been using his phone to take photographs of girls eleven or twelve years old. Upon further questioning by the security officer, the defendant admitted that he is attracted to young girls, that he has a problem, and that he needs professional help. The defendant further admitted that he had previously taken similar photographs at the park and at a local mall. He also admitted that he downloads photographs from his cell phone to his home computer. At that point, the police officer arrested the defendant for disorderly conduct.
The defendant was transported to the Salem Police Department, where detectives interviewed him. After several hours, the defendant admitted that he possessed child pornography on a computer and related equipment stored in his bedroom. The detectives then obtained search warrants for the defendant’s bedroom and computer equipment, seeking evidence of child pornography and child sexual abuse images. Subsequent analysis of the computer equipment seized from the defendant’s home pursuant to those warrants uncovered the images that are the subject of the defendant’s conviction at issue in this appeal. According to the defendant, and not disputed by the State, the original disorderly conduct charge was never pursued.
Before trial, the defendant moved to suppress the evidence obtained following his arrest for disorderly conduct, arguing, among other things, that the arrest was unconstitutional because it lacked probable cause sufficient to satisfy the State and Federal Constitutions. The trial court disagreed, finding that there was probable cause for the defendant’s arrest because the police “had information that Defendant had taken pictures of young girls” and had stored those pictures on his cell phone and home computer. The trial court reasoned that because “there had been complaints about Defendant by other Park patrons, it was likely that if [he] was not arrested, further damage could occur.” The court concluded that “these facts, taken as a whole, provided [the police] with probable cause to arrest Defendant.” However, the trial court did not identify the crime for which the police had probable cause to arrest.
The State argues that the officer had probable cause to arrest the defendant. A person is guilty of disorderly conduct if he or she “[e]ngages in fighting or in violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior in a public place.” Specifically, the State asserts that there was probable cause to believe that the defendant engaged in “threatening” behavior by surreptitiously photographing the backsides of children, causing at least one patron discomfort.
The court concluded that photographing properly-attired children in an open and public portion of Canobie Lake Park, regardless of whether the photographs were of the children’s backsides, were taken surreptitiously, or would be uploaded to a computer,
would not have warranted a reasonable belief that the photographer posed a threat of imminent harm to any patrons, including the children. Accordingly, the court reversed Latagne’s conviction.