Busy Week for Busting Digital Voyeurs

Rhett Pardon
LOS ANGELES - Video peeps have been around since the advent of the home movie camera. But with digital devices getting smaller and less expensive, the voyeurs are proliferating.

And a lot of the action caught on the cam finds itself going on the web.

In three separates cases announced this week, authorities have busted individuals for secretly capturing images of women and young girls.

The alleged voyeurs all captured the images of female victims on digital video.

Police in West Covina, Calif., say that nearly 200 women who applied for jobs at a Hooters restaurant were secretly videotaped in a trailer while they undressed to put on a Hooters uniform. Police raided the trailer last month and seized a computer that held 180 digital videos of the women.

Hooters, a national chain known for its scantily clad waitresses who wear low-cut tank tops and shorts, was scheduled to open the diner in West Covina in April.

Sandi Gibbons, chief spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney, told XBiz that no charges have been filed as of yet. But a former manager for a Hooters in Pasadena is being investigated for the incidents. All of the women ranged from age 17 to 25. Hooters said it was conducting its own investigation.

In Webster Parish, La., the owner of a clothing store has been arrested for allegedly videotaping teenage girls in a changing room, possession of child pornography and threatening to kill a child protection agent. Benjamin Wright, 44, remained in the parish jail Saturday after his arrest on Thursday, when he was pulled over on warrants for threatening to kill the child protection agent, police say.

Officers searched Wright’s vehicle and found 17 videotapes containing child pornography as well as videos of female customers trying on clothes in his store, Shoes and More. Police say the tapes were women and girls as young as 13.

Investigators searched the store and found even more videos containing child pornography.

And more such videos were allegedly found at Wright’s home, and officers also seized a computer hard drive and video cameras that were mounted inside the store’s changing rooms.

Wright was charged criminal possession of child pornography.

And finally in Los Angeles, the LAPD has arrested one of its own. The department’s chief photographer was arrested for allegedly videotaping a 13-year-old girl as she was changing her clothes for a modeling session, police said.

David Adkins was arrested and charged with one misdemeanor count of secretly videotaping the girl through her clothing for purposes of viewing her body or undergarments without her consent or knowledge with intent to arouse, appeal to, or gratify his lust, passions or sexual desires, police said.

Adkins was relieved of his duties with the Police Department, Lt. Art Miller said Saturday.

District Attorney spokeswoman Gibbons said Adkins videotaped the girl as she changed clothes in a bedroom at his home. A relative who had accompanied her to the home saw the camera and took the tape, she said.

Adkins also runs an Internet modeling business. Authorities said the girl had come to his home for a photo shoot.

He had run the Police Department's photo operations for 15 years and had specialized in underwater photography.