Rock Hill Peeping Tom gets 1 year in prison

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comFebruary 13, 2013 

— Ishiya Evans can rest easy at night again.

The Rock Hill man sent to prison two years ago for peeping through her bedroom window was sentenced again Wednesday in a York County courtroom where he pleaded guilty to first-degree harassment and resisting arrest.

Travis Ajuron Cousar, 31, will spend one year behind bars before he’s placed on three years’ probation, the first six months of which he’ll be under house arrest at a home in Catawba near Chester County. After he serves time at the state Department of Corrections, Cousar will undergo mental health counseling. He’s also forbidden from stepping within six miles of Evans’ home or workplace or making any contact with her, “directly or indirectly,” Judge Michael Nettles decided.

He received credit for the 217 days he’s already served in prison.

Prosecutors dismissed the original Peeping Tom charge, which Lisa Collins, assistant 16th Circuit Court solicitor, said carries the same penalty as the harassment charge and fits the crime since Cousar victimized Evans twice.

Police arrested Cousar on July 11 five days after Evans told police she caught him peeping at her while she lay in bed. Evans, 28, reported that she heard tapping on her window at her South Spruce Street home around 1 a.m. She later heard more tapping and went to the front door. When she looked out the window, she made eye contact with Cousar, according to a Rock Hill Police report.

She immediately called police and identified Cousar in a photo lineup.

Police tracked Cousar to his house, securing a search warrant when family members refused to let officers inside. When officers confronted Cousar, he jumped from a window and led police on a chase through the neighborhood before he was caught, Rock Hill Police Capt. Mark Bollinger said in court Wednesday. He was charged as a Peeping Tom and held in jail on a $300,000 bond he was unable to post.

But last July wasn’t the first time Evans, a mother of two, was victimized by Cousar.

In 2010, Evans reported seeing Cousar peer into the back window of her home around 10:30 p.m. He fled on a bike, but fingerprints on her air conditioning unit linked him to the incident. At the time, police identified Cousar as a suspect in at least 18 Peeping Tom and indecent exposure incidents dating to 2008.

He was arrested and sentenced to two years behind bars.

A year later, he was out and peeping again, police say. Authorities received more complaints about Cousar peeping, and he was often a topic of discussion at the police department’s COMPSTAT meetings, where they identify crime trends in certain neighborhoods, Bollinger said. The suspect descriptions were all the same.

“When he’s incarcerated, they (peeping incidents) stop; when he’s out, they start again,” Bollinger said.

When Cousar was released from prison in 2011, police went to his house, warning him to stop peeping, Bollinger said.

But Cousar and his family felt that police were persecuting Cousar, said Cousar’s attorney, York County Deputy Public Defender B.J. Barrowclough.

“Travis is a gentle soul,” Barrowclough said, who would often ride his bike to and from work only to be stopped by suspicious police officers. Barrowclough added that Cousar is a “quiet person, a shy person dealing with … mental and emotional issues.”

Police and the media have vilified Cousar, Barrowclough said, portraying him as a “super villain from a comic book.”

Bollinger agreed that police would often find Cousar riding his bike, but it was usually at 2 and 3 a.m. And, “every time we saw him, he ran like a wild man,” he said.

Asked if he had anything to say for himself, Cousar told Judge Nettles, “I have nothing to say, sir.”

“This has impacted my life tremendously,” Evans said on Wednesday, stressing that her children, 9 and 6, “are old enough to know what’s going on.

“I have nightmares. I’m overwhelmed by it and want it to end,” she said.

Her mother, Letina Evans, said she left her own home to move in with her daughter after the first incident in 2010.

“That’s my baby and my grandchildren,” she said. “Yes, I want justice, but most of all, I want him to get help.”

After the verdict, Evans said she and Cousar were never acquainted, and she’s unsure why he targeted her. She said she was the only victim to come forward.

“Maybe it’ll stop,” she said. “I wanted him to get more time, but … he’ll get the help he needs. I can go to bed without worrying about someone staring at me.”

After serving a year in prison, Cousar will begin serving his probation while living with his aunt and uncle in Chester County under house arrest. If he didn’t find a place to live far from Evans, Barrowclough said, he’d risk more prison time.

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