Personal trainer picture snapped topless on beach says police couldnt help

A woman photographed topless on a beach by a stranger has revealed her horror at seeing it go viral.

Lily Cook, a personal trainer from Sydney, Australia, was relaxing at the beach with her sister two weeks ago when a pervert struck with their camera.

Later that same evening, Cook was aghast to discover photos of her topless being shared on Instagram and on a group chat.

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“I felt violated at the time,” Cook said.

“Then what furthered that was when I questioned these people and asked them why they’d done it, and if they can they stop sharing it, I was made to feel small and gaslit into thinking it was in a public place and it wasn’t taken of me with any malicious intent, even though it had been distributed later.”

Cook says she knew who the people were who took the images, but did not realise exactly what they were doing at the time.

“I had no idea that they were being taken.”

She then went to police, but was shocked at their response after they said there was nothing that could be done.

“They (police) were good at the time … they took it very seriously however what was the issue was that the laws in play at the moment, it’s really hard for them to charge someone on this because it was a public place,” she said.

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Police left Cook stunned when they said they were unable to act as the photos were taken in a public setting.

“Because the person that took the photo just said it was of a public place and the person that distributed it refused to make a statement, we were just caught in the crossfire, there was just nothing that we could do.

“So I was just disappointed at the way it turned out and made to feel like it wasn’t really an issue.

Now, she wants the existing law to be tightened so that such behaviour does not go unpunished.

“I even had the detective on the phone saying, ‘I’m sorry, I just can’t charge someone for being a creep.’ There need to be laws that are much more current with social media that allows us to investigate further at the time of these things happening so that we can stop them.

“It’s also scary not to know where those photos have gone or who has received them.”

It's normally legal to take photos of people in a public place, and nudity is not normally an exception to this.

Julie Inman Grant, an E-Safety Commissioner, said: “It’s not illegal for a person to take a photograph at a topless beach. It certainly is creepy and wrong and frankly gross. It’s quite a grey area of the law.

“It can be quite traumatising to a person because you don’t know where the image has gone, you don’t know who has seen it. Have your colleagues at work seen it, has your mother and father seen it?”

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