TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A wedding studio photographer has been charged with offenses against privacy after allegedly secretly taking nude photos of up to 12 women during a trip to Penghu, reported EBC.
WH Wedding House, a well-known wedding photography studio in New Taipei City's Yonghe District, offered a free trip to nine female bloggers to take photos at scenic locations in Penghu from July 17 to 19. The trip was funded by the Penghu County Government as part of its "Marine Island Wedding Photo Shoot in Penghu" campaign and also included three female employees of the studio.
Just as they were preparing to leave Penghu on July 19, one of the female bloggers told the staff that she "suspected a male photographer had just taken photos of her in the bathroom of her B&B room." The blogger claimed that she saw a selfie stick from the neighboring bathroom extending a GoPro camera in her direction.
The 43-year-old chief executive of the wedding photo studio surnamed Chou (周) immediately started inspecting everyone's bags and the blogger pointed out that she believed it was the GoPro camera owned by a 35-year-old male studio photographer identified as Ko Yu-lun (柯宇倫).
Chou said that after the videotape was reviewed at the Songshan Airport police station, two locations where several nude women had been filmed were identified, including the shower room of the B&B in Penghu and the bathroom of the wedding photography studio. At the time, police identified only two victims including an employee of the studio surnamed Huang (黃) and another female employee surnamed Chen (陳), who was photographed in the studio's bathroom.
The blogger claims that the entire videotape was full of nude women bathing in the same shower room, all inside the B&B's shower facility." She insisted that "there is definitely more than one victim." However, all of the footage was apparently immediately deleted after being inspected and thus it is difficult to determine exactly how many women were victimized by the photographer.
At the time that the photos were revealed, Ko kneeled on the ground and begged for forgiveness and promised he would never do it again. Ko begged also forgiveness from the blogger via online messages and pleaded with the company not to file a complaint, saying that if he was detained his wife would discover his crime.
The blogger asked that Ko sign an affidavit letter before accepting an NT$60,000 (US$1,950) settlement from Ko, reported Liberty Times. Huang and Chen initially agreed not to pursue charges but asked that the incident be reported to the studio's management in hopes the Ko would be fired.
After news of the incident broke, the blogger posted conversations she had with Chou in a group on the social media app LINE saying, "The photographer has been suspended and I am very glad that the it was dealt with when arriving at the airport." The next day Chou posted another message saying, "It has been confirmed that the content of the film has been expanded to include xx teachers (Ms. Huang) and a company colleague who went to the bathroom."
However, after a month had gone by and no action had been taken, the blogger accused the studio of trying to cover up the photographer's behavior and found that not only had he not actually been fired as promised, but he was still secretly working for the studio and being paid on a case-by-case basis. She said that the studio had promised to deal with Ko in accordance with the law, but later in fact dismissed the female makeup artist who had been surreptitiously filmed in the bathroom.
The blogger alleges that during the meeting Chou said, "Who asked him to put you in a porn film, of course it has to be paid for! It's just that this kind of porn movie is expensive, based on six months at a rate of NT$3,000 per day, we'll pay NT$180,000." Huang was soon fired without advanced notice, and in August discovered that the studio had switched to a new model of hiring employees on a contract basis and paid severance to six employees.
Liberty Times also reports that Huang in early July had asked for NT$200,000 in compensation for a previous instance in which Ko tried to take photos of her in the bathroom but photographed Chen instead. She only remained at the company at the time because he had agreed to the compensation amount.
So far, four women have filed a complaint with the company, including another employee, but in response the wedding studio claimed that after reviewing the footage at the airport, the bloggers had not been secretly filmed.
The Penghu County Police Bureau yesterday announced that the victims are pressing charges in the case and that Ko has been summoned. Ko is to be transferred to the Penghu Prosecutor’s Office on charges of offenses against privacy.