A York County man was accused Wednesday of being a “peeping Tom” after police and a resident found he installed a tiny camera on the window of a nearby home to take pictures of a girl, police reports show.
Cody Michael Taylor, 27, was charged with peeping voyeurism or aggravated voyeurism, police reports and jail records show.
A nearby resident to where Taylor lives, in the Bethesda community southeast of Rock Hill, called police Wednesday to report a trespasser, the incident report from the York County Sheriff’s Office shows. The resident came home from work and saw Taylor jumping a fence out of his yard, the report states.
The resident noticed what he believed initially was a pen taped to a window, but found it to be a tiny surveillance camera with a card in it to store pictures, deputies said.
Officers questioned Taylor, who confessed, saying that what he did was “stupid,” and “he was trying to be in love with someone who he could not be in love with,” the report states.
Taylor told deputies he had put the camera up 10 minutes earlier, and that he knew that it was wrong, but that he had been caught by the resident when he went back to take the camera down, the report states.
While such a crime is shocking and rare, it is not the first time in York County in recent years.
Three years ago, John Ross Eddy, a janitor at two York County YMCA locations, installed secret cameras in women’s restrooms that recorded for months. Eddy, 66, was caught when one of the cameras was knocked loose. He remains in prison on a nine-year sentence after pleading guilty to dozens of counts of sexual voyeurism.
In the age of technology with cameras small and discreet, people can protect themselves by being aware of their surroundings, though the office has not had similar instances lately, said Trent Faris, spokesman for the sheriff’s office. Pen or pin cameras can have hours of battery time, Faris said.
“Be aware of your surroundings and if you see something that should not be there, call us,” Faris said.
Incidents in York County involving peeping with surveillance are rare, said prosecutor Erin Joyner, a specialist in sex crimes. She declined comment on the case against Taylor, but she prosecuted Eddy. In the Eddy case, Joyner said in court that secret recording of women was “unacceptable.”
Cell phone photos and videos taken secretly are more common than small camera incidents and many times involve juveniles, said Randy Newman, 6th Circuit Solicitor for Chester and Lancaster counties.
And then there is the old-fashioned peeping.
York County and Rock Hill has had one prominent peeping defendant who has been convicted three times, but only for using his eyes.
Travis Cousar was called a “serial peeping Tom” by Rock Hill police after his arrest several times on peeping and voyeurism charges. Cousar was last convicted in 2016 and sentenced to two years in prison for peeping into a neighbor’s window after convictions for that and other crimes. He has since been released. Cousar’s victims were girls and young women.
Both Eddy, the janitor who used secret cameras, and Cousar are on the South Carolina Sex Offender Registry and have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.
Taylor remained jailed Thursday on a $2,500 bond and has a court appearance in May, records show. The charge carries as much as three years in prison if convicted. Police placed him on a trespass notice for the property.