Local News

Cary Police Hope To Use New Penalties Against Alleged Peeping Tom

Posted January 27, 2006 10:13 a.m. EST

— Two years ago, former teacher, police officer and business owner Billy Apple pleaded guilty to secretly taping dozens of women at the Hillsborough tanning salon he owned, 106 counts in all. The crime was just a misdemeanor, so Apple wasn't sentenced to jail time. Prosecutors lobbied the General Assembly to change the law, and it did, making video voyeurism a felony.

Cary police are now applying that tougher law to a case that happened on Thursday. A young woman was in the bathroom at Crossroads 20 theaters when she saw a hand holding a video camera under the door to her stall.

"It appeared to be a man's hand," said Cary police Capt. David Wulff. "(The alleged victim) said it was tan -- could have been Hispanic, or could have been a white man. Brown dress shoes and blue jeans."

The woman ran into the theater to tell management, and to tell police she had just became a victim of a growing trend in sex crimes.

"That's the downside of technology," said Wulff. "The improvements in technology can cause us problems like this. Unfortunately, anything we design to help us can hurt us at the same time."

Apple was fined $64,000 and ordered to pay the mental health bills of his victims. Prosecutors will have more latitude with the Cary suspect, if they ever find him.

"Suspects in these type of offenses tend to commit the same type of offenses," said Wulff. "So, there may very well be somebody in the database already that we can be looking at."

The victim's mother told WRAL by phone that her daughter is traumatized by the event. She said she has nothing against the theater, but she just wants the person caught. WRAL was unable to reach the owners of the theater.