Friday, September 19, 2008

Janitor uses hidden camera to spy on women showering.

And miraculously this is NOT considered a sex crime.

The women's basketball team at Concordia College (Moorhead, Minn) found the video camera in their shower room and thought it was a joke. Then they hit “play” and saw images of a school custodian, Steven Sopko setting up the camera.

“My heart dropped to the pit of my stomach. My body ached with the thought he had seen us,” one of the players said Thursday at a sentencing hearing for Steven Sopko.

The former janitor pleaded guilty to seven counts of interfering with privacy. He admitted that he secretly placed a camera and at least seven women were captured on video nude.

The player who discovered the camera told Judge Galen Vaa that before the incident, she considered Concordia her home.

Afterward, she said she was no longer as trusting of the faces around her.

“Now, I think twice before going down to the locker room,” said the woman. The Forum chose not to print the names of the women because of the nature of the crime.

Sopke plead guilty to gross misdemeanors and was sentenced to ONLY 350 days in jail, (plus some probation and fines and fees of $1,000). He will NOT have to register as as sex offender.

This creeps me the hell out because when I've applied for jobs, I've been asked about felony convictions, not misdemeanors... does this mean this guy could move out of state and apply to be a janitor again?

Prosecutor Brian Melton suggested that "lawmakers might consider making interfering with privacy a crime that would require offenders to register as sex offenders."


In North Dakota, a similar offense, surreptitious intrusion, can require offender registration.

At Sopko's sentencing, his attorney, Gregory Joseph described him... a good father who worked 80 hours a week to provide for his four children. He is expecting a fifth child soon.

Joseph said Sopko was a community volunteer before the incident and continues to be, having recently completed 800 hours with Habitat for Humanity.

“This is not a monster,” Joseph said. “This is a person who made a very bad decision.”

I don't think building homes for Habitat for Humanity and being able to father children should let this guy off the hook. He may not be a "monster" but what he did was monstrous. He shattered these women's concept of privacy and trust. They all know he saw them. Not only that, a judge had to see it, police had to see it...

One of the players said she cannot go into a locker room or a fitting room without feeling anxiety.

Another woman said her heart stopped when she saw the camera.

“It almost felt as though we had been raped,” she said. “It was unbelievably invasive.”

Let's hope Minnesota gets their laws with the times. This was most definitely a sex crime, and Mr. Sopko deserves to live the rest of his life with that label hanging over his head.


Ouyangdan said...

This makes me so angry.

Sadly I have heard of stuff like this going punished w/ the bare minimum due to things like there being no sound. Apparently if you are only using photos or silent video there is only a privacy invasion, if it had sound it would be more. I can not remember where I read that.

And while I can certainly feel for someone who works long hours to support a family it does not excuse what he did. Those women will be looking over their shoulders and wondering for the rest of their lives.

Rachel said...

Crap. I think I went to elementary school with him. His is not a common name, and I grew up in northern MN.

What he did was not just dumb, it was creepy, invasive, and illegal, and it should have been classified as a sex crime.

Karin said...

Tobes, where are you from? Followed your links from Shakesville, since I'm a Cobber who never left the area.

There was one small, bright spot in the skeezy janitor case--in the Forum, the prosecutor said that he thought that such crimes should be classified as sex crimes, and at least one legislator agrees.

(Usually lurk at Shakesville, but post as Karinna A. when I do post)

Tobes said...

Hey Karin,

I'm a Fargo gal!! And I'm on facebook -- Tobes at Blogspot, if you wanna add me. Midwest feminists unite!

Rachel, yikes... you may have known this guy? It's ooky what people we 'know' are capable of, isn't it?

Jason Makari said...

Made me laugh;
A real question, if you had the ability to watch those videos, would you?