Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Videotaping victim slams justice system

Not contacted in bathroom case

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It was a bathroom pit stop he will never forget. And now a Winnipeg man who exposed a video voyeur believes the justice system has flushed his rights as a victim.

Arcel Gagnon, 37, pleaded guilty this week to the rare charge of voyeurism for incidents that occurred at the Fountain Tire on Warman Road in late 2011 and early 2012. He was given a two-year suspended sentence with probation, which includes sex-offender counselling.

Gagnon, a company employee at the time, admits concealing an iPhone inside a jacket and placing it on a hook inside the bathroom for the purpose of videotaping customers doing their business.

The 22-year-old man who uncovered Gagnon's crime spoke to the Free Press Thursday to express his concerns about how the case was handled. He is upset he wasn't given the opportunity to make a victim-impact statement or even told about the court hearing so he could attend in person.

"I'm shocked about the whole scenario," said the man, who didn't want his name published out of "embarrassment" over what happened to him and others. "It's kind of (expletive) up."

The man was getting some work done on a company vehicle in April 2012 when he went to use the unisex bathroom and discovered the poorly concealed camera protruding from the jacket pocket.

"I saw the camera pointing in my direction. It wasn't hidden very well, it was pretty out there," he said. The man quickly discovered he had been videotaped and promptly erased the footage and told management while contacting police.

"He knew what he was doing, he had a system," he said. "The camera was all propped up with cardboard."

The man took issue with the Crown's claim this week he erased other videos he found on the phone. The Crown admitted in court they couldn't say how many customers or employees may have been secretly recorded because no evidence was found. The camera was believed to have been hidden in the washroom for up to six months.

"I know mine was the only one that was there," he said. "Why would I erase any others?"

Gagnon admits taping several people but claims the footage was promptly destroyed and the videos were never shared or posted online. He said he did it out of "curiosity" and not for a sexual purpose.

"Who knows what happened to those other videos. They could still be out there," said the man who found the camera.

A female employee at the store was in court Wednesday and issued a victim-impact statement about the invasion of her privacy -- even though Gagnon didn't specifically plead guilty to recording her.

The man who discovered the camera wonders why the same courtesy wasn't extended to him, especially since he literally was caught with his pants down on film. He did receive a phone call from the Fountain Tire head office after the incident to personally apologize. He still wonders why they allowed Gagnon to hang his jacket in the bathroom for so many months, which was the ruse he used to videotape the victims.

Nelson Tom, vice-president of marketing, issued a public media statement Thursday following Gagnon's guilty plea and sentencing.

"We sincerely regret the incident involving Arcel Gagnon. We would like to assure customers that the situation was dealt with swiftly. Arcel Gagnon was immediately suspended and we contacted the RCMP. Upon completion of the investigation he was terminated on April 19, 2012," the statement read.

Gagnon had been seeking a discharge that would allow him to maintain a clean criminal record. But provincial court Associate Chief Judge Janice leMaistre said a stronger message must be sent for this kind of disturbing offence.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 5, 2013 A7

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