56.4 F
Friday, July 3, 2020

Man pleads guilty to charges of voyeurism at Wilson Library

Charles Gregory Vergin on May 18, 2018 during his preliminary appearance in the Whatcom County Superior Court, where he initially pleaded not guilty. // Photo by Julia Berkman

by Zoe Buchli

Charles Vergin, 57, pleaded guilty to a charge of voyeurism in the second degree on Wednesday, March 13, at the Whatcom County Courthouse.

In May 2018, Vergin was arrested at Wilson Library after a student reported he was taking photos of female students in the library. Voyeurism in the second degree, according to Washington State Law, is when a person takes pictures or videos of another person’s intimate area with an intent to distribute.

Vergin had previously pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on May 25, 2018, before prosecutors had reviewed footage yielded by a search warrant.

Whatcom County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jonathan Richardson said the warrant covered Vergin’s electronic devices, including a digital camera and a computer.

“This is a bit different than any voyeurism case that I’ve ever seen,” Richardson said. “It would seem that Mr. Vergin’s interest was not upskirt photographs or photographs that were revealing like you see in most voyeurism cases.”

The photos and videos found on Vergin’s electronic devices were of women who were always clothed, Richardson said, with most of the photos being of young women in jeans; Vergin’s collection included pictures and videos of their shoes.

“We still think these women had a reasonable expectation of privacy and to be free from surveillance … at the university,” he said. “At the same time, this was not that kind of intrusive surveillance.”

Vergin declined to comment when Whatcom County Presiding Judge Deborra Garrett asked if he wanted to say anything.

Bellingham criminal defense attorney Michael Brodsky said he also looked through all of the photos and that all of the women were clothed, and he found no images of undergarments or that include faces.

Brodsky said the voyeurism in the second degree statute requires an intent to distribute, and that there is no evidence Vergin intended to distribute these photos and videos.  

“[I think that] Vergin is unlikely to repeat this behavior and understands now that what maybe he felt was harmless was not, in fact, harmless, and that he will change his behavior appropriately and not have to be in front of this court again,” Brodsky said.

According to a university police list of people trespassed from Western’s campus, Vergin was barred from campus on May 17, 2018, and his trespass status remains active. Vergin has received a suspended sentence and will not be serving more time unless he breaks his no contact order from the university, Richardson said.

Garrett said the court and police take the no contact orders very seriously.

“Mr. Vergin, you made a mistake here; it was an invasion of privacy. It certainly could have been worse,” Garrett said when she approved the plea. “But still, it was an invasion of privacy. It was a mistake. And you’re here acknowledging the mistake and I hope you can pay the consequences and then go in a better direction. You’ll have a better life if you do.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Must Read

Sports: Pros and cons of Seahawks’ NFL draft pick Malik McDowell

Why did the Seahawks go after a defensive tackle with their first selection in the 2017 NFL draft? Coming off...

Resident advisers hold open forum with university officials to discuss concerns

Written by: Bram Briskorn and Questen Inghram Over 300 people packed into Arntzen Hall, room 100 as if it were...

Behind the systems: WWU Newman Center forced resignation of student employee after learning of same-sex partner

Student says she was told to break up with her girlfriend or quit her job

Latest News

March to defund police seeks structural change

Sunday’s protest in solidarity with Black Lives Matter unites communities including LGBTQ+, Black, Indigenous people...

Campus Wildlife During the Pandemic

With most public spaces closed due to COVID-19, wild animals have once again filled those spaces

Want to change how much you pay on student loans?

By Kiana Doyle Student loans — the daunting subject that can strike fear in the heart of any college...

We should be supporting tattoo artists during the pandemic

Flash sheet by Rodney Smartlowit. // Photo courtesy of Rodney Smartlowit Opinion By Kaelin Bell

COVID-19 restrictions on scuba divers

By Jason James There is one local certified scuba shop, Gone Diving, that must...

More Articles Like This