A Dallas Doctor Is Being Punished for Taking Creepy Photos of High School Cheerleaders

Secretly taking pictures of cheerleaders is frowned upon, but it's also protected by the Constitution.
Secretly taking pictures of cheerleaders is frowned upon, but it's also protected by the Constitution.

Though no court has fully adjudicated the matter, it's safe to say that Dr. James Angelo Summa is guilty of doing something creepy. To wit, in the fall of 2013, the Dallas radiologist was caught surreptitiously photographing cheerleaders at a Mesquite High School football game. Summa was arrested by Mesquite cops, who searched his camera and found that his photos and videos were focused on the cheerleaders' "legs or buttocks region," according to police documents. Summa subsequently admitted to state health regulators that he had indeed been taking pictures of the teenagers without their knowledge. Whatever the burden of proof for establishing creepiness, Summa's admitted conduct exceeds it.

Now the reasons why Summa's conduct was never addressed in court, which are twofold. First, he was no-billed by a grand jury, meaning a panel of his peers reviewed the evidence and decided there wasn't enough there to formally charge him with a crime. Second, the crime for which he was arrested, "improper photography," is a bullshit law that was subsequently ruled unconstitutional by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

See also: Dallas Doctor Busted Under Texas' Improper Photography Law, Which Sure Seems Unconstitutional

Nevertheless, the Texas Medical Board has doled out some nonjudicial punishment to Summa in the form of a slap on the wrist for "unprofessional conduct." According to an agreed order signed on April 10, Summa admitted to taking pictures of cheerleaders "without their knowledge." The board further found that Summa's "conduct caused concern to members of the public in attendance at the football game."

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The agreement requires Summa to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, 12 hours additional training, pay a $2,000 fine and stop prescribing controlled substances to himself and family members.

The order isn't entirely clear on how Summa's conduct gives the medical board the authority to punish him. It cites a portion of Texas law allowing them to take action for "unprofessional or dishonorable conduct that is likely deceive or defraud ... or injure the public," though in what way snapping creepy -- but currently legal -- pictures does any of those things. But this is a moot point, since Summa has agreed to the discipline and also admitted to improperly self-prescribing medication, an issue that is much more cut and dry.

Summa's attorneys have not responded to a request for comment.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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