Minnesota court overturns conviction against man who secretly recorded minor

An appellate court has overturned an Anoka man’s conviction of interfering with privacy when he secretly recorded his girlfriend’s young daughter.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Monday that there wasn’t enough evidence to warrant 59-year-old Kevin Lee Baker’s conviction.

Court documents show that Baker installed small “Nanny Cam” devices in the bathroom and bedroom used by the 12-year-old daughter of his girlfriend in early 2017. He was charged with interfering with privacy the following year after the daughter found the devices, which looked like a USB charger block but had a small camera above the USB port.

A jury found Baker guilty of interfering with privacy in February 2022 and he was later sentenced to 30 days in the county workhouse and two years of probation.

However, two months after Baker’s conviction, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in a separate case that a man who used his cellphone to record a sleeping woman in her bed without her consent didn’t violate the state’s law on interference with privacy because the law only classifies recording “through the window or any other aperture” of a home as a violation of the law and using a cellphone to record someone in the same room isn’t through a window or aperture.

Following that decision, Baker tried to get his own conviction overturned on the same logic. While the district court initially denied his motion, the Minnesota Court of Appeals determined that Baker’s case was similar to the case the high court ruled on and, because Baker’s cameras were installed in the same room as the victims, his case also didn’t meet the criteria to violate state law.

The court’s opinion noted prosecutors argued that because Baker’s cameras were plugged into electrical outlets, that should classify as recording through an aperture. The judges disagreed, saying the cameras didn’t record from another room or through the openings in the outlet, and the cameras and victims, therefore, weren’t separated by an aperture.

In the Minnesota Supreme Court decision last year, Justice Anne K. McKeig noted the judges weren’t evaluating whether the conduct was wrong but rather, whether or not the state law “covers his conduct.” Ultimately, the justices found that a “bad policy outcome is not enough to justify departure from the plain language of a statute.”

State lawmakers updated the law this spring in the public safety omnibus bill. That update will officially go into effect on Aug. 1.