Crime

Rock Hill 'peeping Tom' convicted for not registering as sex offender

A Rock Hill man, who over the past several years has been repeatedly suspected but convicted only once of being a “peeping Tom,” was back in court on Tuesday afternoon for failing to register as a sex offender.

Travis Cousar, 33, pleaded “no contest” to the charge that he did not properly notify law enforcement of his residence in York County. He was sentenced to one year in prison but a judge gave him credit for the time he’s been in jail since the end of June 2014. Tuesday’s conviction will appear on Cousar’s record the same as a guilty plea.

By pleading “no contest” on Tuesday, Cousar signaled to the court that he does not dispute prosecutors’ allegation that in late 2013 he registered with local police as living with his sister on Old Friendship Road, just outside Rock Hill, when in fact he’s been residing elsewhere.

“He apparently bounces around from place to place,” said Assistant Prosecutor Erin Joyner. “It is not the intention of the sex offender registry to allow a person who has been convicted of an offense like this to live wherever he wants to live without reporting it to law enforcement.”

Cousar was convicted as a sex offender in 2011. Since then, under South Carolina law, he’s been required to register his address with local law enforcement.

That 2011 conviction came after he was arrested by Rock Hill Police on the suspicion that he’d been involved in numerous “peeping Tom” and indecent exposure incidents dating back to 2008 in the city.

Joyner told visiting Judge Eugene C. Griffith that the recent charge of failure to register as a sex offender stems from spring 2014 when Cousar was allegedly living part time with his mother and occasionally with his then-girlfriend – not at his sister’s home where he had told police he was living.

Cousar is close to his family and does not have his own home, his lawyer said in court.

The failure to register as a sex offender charge came up after Cousar was again arrested for “aggravated voyeurism,” accused of peeping in the back window of a woman’s home on Arch Drive in Rock Hill in June.

His public defender, Creighton Hayes, says Cousar plans to contest that “peeping Tom” charge and a trial will likely be held on Feb. 9. If convicted, Cousar could face up to five years in prison on the aggravated voyeurism” charge.

At the time of the Arch Drive voyeurism incident last summer, Cousar was out on bond for two other unrelated criminal charges: domestic violence and resisting police. When he was arrested in June for allegedly peeping into the woman’s home, his bond on the two prior charges was revoked.

He’s been in jail at the Moss Justice Detention Center since June 27.

In December 2014, after Cousar’s bond was revoked and he was sent back to jail, prosecutors obtained a grand jury indictment for the failure to register as a sex offender charge, Hayes said.

Hayes argued on Tuesday that Cousar should be given credit for time he’s already served because the allegation that he failed to register stemmed from early 2014 – before the most recent voyeurism arrest. York County prosecutors, Hayes said, could have tried to obtain an indictment earlier than the end of the year.

In deciding to allow Cousar credit for time he’s already spent in jail since June, Judge Griffith said he did not have a specific reason for backdating the time served. His ruling that Cousar’s overall sentence will be 12 months fulfilled the request that the prosecution made on Tuesday for Cousar’s punishment.

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