Hooters Manager Busted for Voyeurism

WEST COVINA, Calif. - Talk about voyeur videos.

A former general manager of a new Hooters restaurant in West Covina, Calif., faces up to 19 years in state prison for allegedly secretly taping 14 applicants as they changed into waitress uniforms during job interviews.

A 57-count criminal complaint was filed Tuesday against Juan Martin Aponte, 32, charged with 25 felonies and 32 misdemeanors, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office told XBiz.

Later Tuesday, Aponte pleaded not guilty to all charges. He was arrested Friday and held on $500,000 bail.

According to the criminal complaint, the digital taping occurred between November and February in a trailer outside a building that is being renovated to become a new Hooters.

Felony charges were possible because four of the applicants were under age 18 at the time and because the digital recording also contained audio.

Because some of the women videotaped were under 18, Aponte was charged with eight felonies. He also faces 17 counts of eavesdropping.

The DA’s office also charged Aponte with 31 counts of misdemeanor invasion of privacy and one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Detectives began investigating in February when a young woman said she was asked to try on a Hooters uniform during a job interview and suspected a digital camera in the dressing room was on.

Later, after search warrants were served, police seized 180 digital recordings at his home and a temporary office adjacent to the future Hooters.

The probe prompted five women to sue Atlanta-based Hooters of America on grounds the company was negligent in its supervision of the restaurant manager. The company does not have a policy to ask job applicants to try on the uniforms.

Hooters said it is cooperating with police and has characterized the allegations as "one person acting outside the scope of company policy."