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Filipino pastor acquitted of upskirt filming of woman on escalator

26 May 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao

The pastor was cleared of the charge of upskirt filming in Kowloon City court

A Filipino church minister has been acquitted in Kowloon City Court of a charge of taking an upskirt video of a local woman on an escalator in Yau Ma Tei MTR station more than two years ago.

Albert Arbolario was cleared of the charge today, May 26, by Magistrate Leung Ka-kie at the end of a two-day trial, in which he vigorously denied he had intended to take an upskirt video of the alleged victim, identified only as Miss X.

Giving evidence on day 2 of his trial, the Baptist Church pastor said he was not aware his mobile phone was in video mode when it accidentally collided with Ms X’s right leg.
Arbolario, who is also a part-time businessman, was charged with “committing an act outraging public decency” arising from the incident.

On Monday, Ms X, the lone prosecution witness, said from behind a portable cubicle that she was going up the Exit D escalator around 9am on Feb 28, 2018, when she felt a cold object touch the outer side of her right leg.

She said when she turned around, she saw the defendant pulling back his left hand, which was holding a mobile phone with the screen on, and he was taking a video.
Miss X said she grabbed the man’s hand but he managed to wiggle free. She confronted him in Cantonese, pointing to his phone and accusing him of taking a video under her skirt. She reported the incident to MTR staff.

Police were called and Arbolario was arrested. They also seized his mobile phone. After investigation, the officers released the pastor on police bail.

In his evidence, Arbolario said he was in a hurry to go to work and was about to overtake Ms X, who was standing two steps ahead of him on the left side of the escalator.


With his phone in his left hand, he demonstrated how he shifted his backpack to his right shoulder, accidentally touching Ms X’s right thigh with the phone.

“I never had a plan or intention to take an upskirt video,” Arbolario declared when he was cross-examined by female prosecutor Jess Yan.

Defense counsel Andrew Raffell objected a few times to the way Yan questioned his client, saying she should have asked “Do you agree?” each time. The magistrate agreed.

The barrister said the video evidence police retrieved from the phone lasted only two seconds and did not definitively show it was an upskirt video when played back in court.

Raffell called two character witnesses, Fok ying-yan, who said she was an e-commerce partner of Arbolario, and Filipino maid Jennifer Aquino, a senior member of the church.

Fok said Arbolario was hard-working. They had been friends and business partners for five years, traveling together to other countries. But she said she did not observe any behavior related to the offense for which he was being tried.

Aquino, who said it was Arbolario who converted him to the Baptist Church after she met him in 2007, repeatedly said he was respectable and a man of integrity.

In her verdict, Magistrate Leung said there was no doubt Arbolario’s phone and Ms X’s leg collided, but the contact point was unclear.

She said the video footage itself did not show clearly it was an upskirt filming because it was first pointing at the floor then at the ceiling light. The frame that the prosecution said showed the leg and hemline of Ms X’s skirt was also not clear.       

Leung said Arbolario’s witnesses spoke of his good character and that he was a church pastor. The burden of proof was on the prosecution, but it failed to prove his guilt, she said.

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