Sexual harassment -- of the butt-slapping variety -- has been waning since the 1970s. But at the same time, new technologies allow for whole new levels of creepiness. Last Friday, the reported vice president of a Wisconsin accounting firm was charged with four felonies for allegedly using a camera pen to spy on women in the office restroom.
Last month, a woman working in an office building in the Milwaukee suburb of Glendale went to the bathroom and noticed a pen slide under the door, according to the criminal complaint and reported by the Menomonee Falls Patch. Suspecting that the pen was a camera, the woman looked online and spotted a camera pen for sale that looked similar. She then contacted the Glendale police.
A week later, another woman allegedly saw the same pen slide under the bathroom door. She likewise reported the incident to police, and the officers checked hidden cameras that they had set up outside the bathroom. According to the complaint, the cameras showed James Pirc, 46, sliding something under the door.
Pirc's profile on LinkedIn describes him as vice president of Bristol & Company, S.C., which is located in that building. Bristol & Company doesn't list Pirc as one of the six employees on their website, however, and the firm refused to tell New York's Daily News whether Pirc was still an employee, saying the matter was being "handled by the appropriate authorities."
Officers searched Pirc's home and reported finding a camera pen, which they seized, that had four videos of women using the bathroom, reports the Menomonee Falls Patch. According to the criminal complaint against him, Pirc admitted using the pen 15 or 16 times over nine months for "inappropriate things" but said that he deleted most of its contents. He also reportedly said that he felt bad about it and stopped filming for a couple weeks, but temptation won out.
Pirc is charged with four counts of capturing an image of nudity without consent, Patch said.
States' "Peeping Tom" laws vary, and in Alaska, Kansas and Pennsylvania for example it is a misdemeanor to film another person nude without consent, when the person had a reasonable expectation of privacy. In Wisconsin, however, this is a felony -- and the four counts against Pirc could bring him up to 14 years in prison and $40,000 in fines, if he's convicted.
Among several similar cases recently in the news:
• In June, an employee at a Catholic university in Pennsylvania was fired after his co-worker noticed a camera lens peeping through a small hole in a ceiling tile in her office, right above where she breast-pumped.
• That same month, a female employee at Houston's Hobby Airport discovered a camera concealed in a thermostat in the women's bathroom. "That's your most private moment in the whole wide world is in the bathroom," the employee told ABC affiliate KTRK. "You don't even share that with your husband, and all of us ladies are completely devastated over that."
• In May, a group of women sued Las Vegas show producer David Saxe, claiming that he installed a hidden video camera in their pole dancing classroom, which also served as a changing area.
• In April, a maintenance worker at a Southern California Sears was arrested and charged with burglary and surreptitious filming of unsuspecting women, when hidden cameras were uncovered in the walls of women's restrooms and changing rooms.
• And last month, a manager of a furniture company in Wales was found guilty of voyeurism for using a pen camera, which he allegedly got because he feared his wife was having an affair, to film inside the women's toilets.
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