Triangle peeping cases popping up

July 23, 2009 2:40:09 PM PDT
Prosecutors in the Triangle say they are seeing more and more cases of peeping in the community. The crimes are nothing new to the area, but as millions are Googling the peep-hole video of ESPN's Erin Andrews naked in her hotel room, more local cases are coming to light.

Andrews is just the latest victim of hi-tech peeping. Authorities said at least six tapes of Andrews were taken while she was naked inside her room at two different hotels.

In Wake County, Elliot Zayas faces 20 counts of felonious peeping.

Police said he used wireless cameras to tape women in bathrooms and hotel rooms around the area.

"If you use a device to look up someone's clothing, or through someone's clothing or you install a device and perhaps you never get naked but the purpose that we can prove was for sexual gratification becomes a felony peeping charge," Assistant District Attorney Melanie Shekita said.

Shekita said the evidence isn't hard to find, but the victims are.

"I think many of the victims never know that they are a victim," Shekita said.

In 2006, police arrested a man for using his cell phone to look up women's skirts at Crabtree Valley Mall.

Two months later, Raleigh police arrested another man for peeping in the women's bathroom at Triangle Town Center.

"I noticed two feet come into the next stall, peeping tom victim "Wendy" said." The feet disappeared. I looked over my right should and saw a man looking over from the next stall and I screamed at him. He's sick. He's a disgusting individual."

If someone is caught peeping more than once or caught peeping with a device, they could end up on the sex offender registry for up to 30 years.

"It may not be an active jail sentence, but at least we can identify those folks." Shekita said.

Authorities admited some offenders end up in jail, but not always.


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