Tuesday, September 20, 2011
5-Year-Old Girl Finds Hidden Camera In a D.C. Starbucks Bathroom
A five-year-old girl walked out of Starbucks with more than just a hot chocolate after having discovered a hidden camera in the coffee shop's unisex bathroom.
The girl's family is now suing the coffee chain for damages after she and her father were taped while using the toilet in a D.C. Starbucks.
William Yockey and his family were visiting the capital in late August from their home in Norfolk, Virginia.
His daughter discovered a video camera hidden underneath the sink that was pointed towards the toilet. Yockey determined that the camera was on and recording, then notified the police.
The camera was taken by police for further investigation, and no suspects have been named.
Because so little is known about the camera- including who put it there and when- this lawsuit could theoretically be opened up to include anyone else who used the restroom at that Starbucks.
The lawsuit, which will be heard in D.C. Superior Court, claims that the daughter suffered 'permanent and continuing emotional pain and suffering, humiliation, embarrassment and great emotional distress'.
Court records show that Starbucks tried having the suit dismissed, but the request was overturned and pretrial dates have been set.
A spokesman for Starbucks told MailOnline that they have acted in compliance of their company's policy which puts a premium on the safety of their customers and employees.
Our store partners took swift action as soon as they became aware of the issue - immediately alerting the police department and assisting in the investigation,' said spokesman Alan Hilowitz.
We continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement on this matter; however, because there is pending litigation, we cannot comment on the specifics of this case,' Hilowitz continued.
However, we can tell you that as a part of regular store operations, we monitor the seating areas and rest rooms in our stores on a regular basis to identify potential safety or security concerns.'
While this is the first time that this particular Starbucks, located on the corner of 7th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, it was not the first 'peeping Tom' incident for the worldwide brand.
In May, a man named William Zafra Velasco, 25, was charged with filming 45 women and children in a California Starbucks.
In the case, Velasco attached a fake coat hook to the bathroom wall, which had a secret camera installed to shoot video.
He wasn't the original mastermind though: the coat hook spy camera can be bought over the internet for $36.
Workers began to raise concerns about Velasco after he kept entering the woman's bathroom on hourly intervals. It later turned out that he did so to download the recordings and replace the camera.
Immediately after his arrest, Velasco was charged with the felony crime of secretly videotaping victims for sexual gratification.
Branches in Connecticut and Florida have had similarly voyeuristic complaints.
The reported incident in D.C. was slightly different because the girl, whose name is being protected, found a video camera lodged in the U-joint of the sink where it was angled so that it was facing the toilet.