Prosecutors: Peeping case fails because of Rhode Island law


MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (AP) – Prosecutors dismissed a criminal case this week against a gym owner accused of spying on a woman in a shower, all because peeping is legal in Rhode Island – so long as the offender does it on his own property.

Michael Cecchi, 37, was arrested in October, about one month after a 43-year-old fitness instructor reported seeing a man’s hand grabbing a ceiling tile above her, according to a police report. She screamed, grabbed a towel, got dressed and ran to Cecchi for help.

Investigators later concluded Cecchi had climbed a folding ladder near the women’s locker room, lifted a ceiling tile and gazed into the bathroom.

He was charged with acting disorderly by entering another person’s property and looking in “for lascivious purposes.”

But Michael Healey, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said prosecutors faced a major problem: Cecchi couldn’t have trespassed inside a gym he owns.

“There’s an old saying: ‘You can’t pick your facts,”‘ Healey said. “And this is clearly the case; we couldn’t pick our facts. This case died because the law is very clear.”

Attorney General Patrick Lynch is considering asking lawmakers to revise the law, Healey said.

Cecchi maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings.

“We’re just glad it’s over,” he said. “I just want to thank my family and all my true friends and move on.”