Tennessee Supreme Court rules man’s secret recording of girl not child pornography

Tennessee Supreme Court building (Photo via tncourts.gov)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that a man who hid a video camera in the bedroom of a 13-year-old relative while she was in the shower is not guilty of attempting to produce child pornography.

In a split decision filed earlier this week, the court’s three female judges — Justices Holly Kirby, Cornelia Clark and Sharon Lee — found David Scott Hall’s actions did not meet Tennessee’s definition for production of child pornography, which requires sexual content beyond mere nudity.

According to the court’s opinion, authored by Kirby, Hall waited until the girl left her bedroom and placed the camera there, where she normally changed her clothes. Kirby writes that the day Hall placed the camera in the room, the girl returned from the bathroom fully clothed. She immediately spotted the camera, and she turned it off. Kirby wrote that the the resulting video “did not depict the minor in any degree of nudity.”

The two dissenting male judges — Justices Jeffrey Bivins, and Roger Page — noted that Hall positioned the camera to show the girl’s torso and upper thighs but not her face. They argued the most important factor was Hall’s intent, not what the camera would have captured had the girl not found it immediately.

The state has 90 days to file an appeal.