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May 19, 2015

Philly police seek man who photographed boy's feet in park

Police Special Victims Unit
Police investigation Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice


The Philadelphia Police Department's Special Victims Unit is looking for a man who allegedly asked to photograph the feet of an 11-year-old boy.

The incident was reported on May 10. The boy says he was at the skate park near the 2500 block of Spring Garden Street when a man approached him. According to the boy, the man offered to buy him a soda if he was allowed to take pictures of his feet.

The man proceeded to photograph the boy's feet, and asked him to come back next week with his friends.

Under Pennsylvania's Child Protective Services Laws, the definition of sexual abuse or exploitation includes the following:

The employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement or coercion of a child to engage in or assist another individual to engage in sexually explicit conduct, which includes, but is not limited to... Actual or simulated sexual activity for the purpose of producing visual depiction, including photographing...

Mickey Osterreicher, an attorney specializing in media law, says it is difficult to say whether taking pictures of a child's feet would apply to that law, even if the suspect interpreted them in a sexual manner. 

"It's a stretch whether it would even fall under that," Osterreicher said. "Sexually explicit usually has to do with one's sexual organs."

While it is legal in Pennsylvania to take pictures of anyone or anything in a public setting, Osterreicher notes that the suspect's use of the photos could potentially get him in trouble. 

Osterreicher said that a police investigation, especially if there are concerned parents, is perfectly reasonable under the circumstances, especially considering the man allegedly engaged in conversation and asked the child to return.

"There's nothing wrong with wanting to talk to the guy," he said. "Whether or not they will charge him is another story."

The description for the man provided by the SVU pegs him anywhere between the ages of 30 and 60 and between 5'7" and 6'1" in height. More specifically, he is described as having some sort of acne or skin condition on his face. He was last seen wearing a black t-shirt and green-fatigue pants.