Judge rules prosecution can continue against Rock Hill’s alleged serial peeping Tom
08/19/2014 7:57 PM
08/20/2014 7:26 AM
Travis Cousar said nothing in court Tuesday when a judge ruled there is probable cause for prosecutors to go to trial against him.
But Cousar is not accused of having trouble running his mouth. The last time he was in court, he just said to the judge who sentenced him to a year in prison for peeping into the windows of a woman’s home: “I have nothing to say, sir.”
It is his eyes that keep getting the 33-year-old registered sex offender – whose probation over the years has been revoked four times – in trouble.
Cousar is an alleged serial peeping Tom.
Police even went to where Cousar was living after his release from prison in 2011 and told him to stop peeping, officers said in court when Cousar was last convicted 14 months ago. Suspected of as many as 20 incidents of peeping, police have said in the past, Cousar got out of prison – and police said he started again.
Cousar has a drug conviction dating back to when he was 17 years old. He has many other convictions since, including spitting on police trying to arrest him. He even served a prison sentence for crack cocaine possession, prison officials said.
Then for the peeping incident early last year, Cousar pleaded guilty to harassment and although sentenced to a year, served about six months because inmates in some crimes serve what is called “day for day.” For every day served without incident, the inmate earns a credit day, said Clark Newsom, of the S.C. Department of Corrections. Cousar got out before Christmas.
Cousar served some extra prison time after his probation was revoked for the fourth time and he was classified as an “absconder,” said Pete O’Boyle, spokesman for the S.C. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services. Yet, Cousar “maxed out” of prison time after all the sentences finished and was released without any probation or supervision, O’Boyle said.
Cousar had a chance to start over.
But after his latest release from prison, Cousar was charged in April with assault against his girlfriend. Then he was charged with resisting arrest after police found him. He bonded out of jail. The charge remains pending in criminal court in York.
But that is not why he was in court Tuesday.
Cousar was then charged with misdemeanor trespassing May 10 after a woman who had installed a camera to catch creepers called police to say a man was looking in the window. Police said the video showed Cousar. That case remains pending in Rock Hill city court.
But that case is not why Cousar was in court Tuesday.
Tuesday was court for a different alleged peeping of a sexual nature. Alleged aggravated voyeurism. A felony that carries up to five years if convicted.
Cousar allegedly was peeping at a woman on Rock Hill’s Arch Drive in June, under cover of darkness just minutes after midnight. The young mother was in the kitchen waiting for milk for her baby. Her sister was taking a shower, prosecutors said in court. The woman in the kitchen looked out the rear window and saw a face looking right back at her.
“Peeping in the glass window of the back door,” the police report read in court stated.
The woman being ogled shrieked, her brother ran outside and confronted the man who claimed to be having marital problems. The suspect walked off, but came back to try to get the bicycle he had left in his haste to walk away. But the police had been called and the suspect ran off, leaving the bicycle that had gotten him to the window in the first place.
Police responded and the next day officers showed the woman a photo lineup.
“She picked out Mr. Cousar,” a Rock Hill detective, Ryan Thomas, testified Tuesday.
The top officers from Rock Hill’s violent crime apprehension unit found Cousar a few days later, hiding in another Rock Hill house. He has been in jail without bond ever since.
So Cousar was in court Tuesday for what is called a probable cause preliminary hearing. Defendants accused of a felony have the right to make prosecutors show a magistrate judge the evidence against them to determine if there is probable cause for the case to be sent to a grand jury for indictments. If indictments are handed down, then prosecutors can proceed to trial.
Travis Cousar wanted a public court hearing Tuesday where prosecutors would have to air what evidence they have, so that is what he got.
Travis Cousar qualifies for a public defender because he is indigent. He has had handfuls of public defenders.
His current lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Creighton Hayes, argued that fingerprints from the window at the scene did not match Cousar’s. Hayes argued that no DNA matching Cousar was found on the bicycle. Hayes said there was no probable cause for police to suspect Cousar.
But Assistant Solicitor Erin Joyner, the prosecutor, brought up a small detail.
“The person that was looking in that window was there for no other reason than to spy on the persons inside, and Mr. Cousar was identified from a police lineup,” Joyner said. “We have a victim who said this occurred.”
On Arch Drive after court Tuesday there was a man outside a house working on a truck. He did not know about the court hearing. He did not know Cousar has served prison time for similar offenses, or is a registered sex offender. But he sure knows that he does not want anyone peeping at his daughters in his house.
“What this man did is not right,” the man said.
Cousar’s criminal record and past allegations were not mentioned Tuesday in court. Generally, convictions and past history are only admissible at sentencing if there is a conviction, so if Cousar wants a trial, the current case might not mention his past. He is innocent until proven guilty and has had no trial. Still, magistrate judge Dan Malphrus needed about three seconds to say that probable cause existed for prosecutors to move forward.
Cousar said nothing as he was led out of the courtroom back to the county jail. He did not even look around.
Join the Discussion
The Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.