A former maintenance worker at Royal Oaks Country Club who hid a cellphone in a restroom to secretly record a woman using the toilet was sentenced Monday to 30 days on a work crew.
Jorge L. Moreno-Palma, 40, of Vancouver pleaded guilty in Clark County Superior Court to an amended charge of second-degree voyeurism, a gross misdemeanor, stemming from the Feb. 19 incident.
Moreno-Palma, who was a longtime employee, no longer works at Royal Oaks, 8917 N.E. Fourth Plain Blvd.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, a 42-year-old woman reported that she had been golfing with a friend when she used a restroom near the 16th hole tee box. She told police that while she was seated, she saw what looked like a lens pointing out of the vent directly across from the toilet.
The woman’s friend entered the restroom, they removed the vent and found a phone that had been recording for about four minutes, the affidavit says.
Vancouver police responded and collected the phone from the club’s golf course superintendent, Gordon Kiyokawa, who said he recognized the man in the phone’s home screen photo as Moreno-Palma. Kiyokawa said he reviewed the video, which recorded a man from the chest down as he placed the phone in the vent, court records state.
About an hour after the phone was found, Moreno-Palma came to Kiyokawa and said he had made a mistake. Kiyokawa noted that Moreno-Palma wore the same jacket and shirt as the man seen in the video, according to the affidavit.
Moreno-Palma allegedly told Kiyokawa he placed the phone in the vent after hearing strange noises in the restroom, court records say.
Police met with the woman the next day. She said she remembered seeing several maintenance employees working nearby. They would have seen her and her friend golfing at Hole 15, she said, shortly before they reached the restroom. She also recalled seeing a Hispanic male employee walk out of the men’s restroom as she walked up, according to the affidavit.
After obtaining a search warrant, investigators found a video four minutes and 47 seconds in length. Within three minutes of the phone being placed, the woman is seen in the restroom, the affidavit states.
During Monday’s hearing, Moreno-Palma’s attorney, Therese Lavallee, said her client had been watching “TikTok-like videos,” in which the person’s spouse was filmed taking a bath or using the restroom. (TikTok is a video-sharing social networking app.)
Moreno-Palma became interested in doing that, she said, and put his camera in “a very naive and not sophisticated” location in the golf course restroom.
Lavallee said Moreno-Palma did not do it for sexual gratification, rather it was “more stupidity than anything.” No other material like that was found on his phone, she added.
“I feel really sorry for what I’ve done,” Moreno-Palma told the court, speaking through a Spanish interpreter. “And yes, I would like to have a second chance to be with my family.”
Judge David Gregerson said the plea deal initially struck him as “somewhat of a light sentence.” But because this was presumably a one-off, based on the search of Moreno-Palma’s phone, he said he would follow the sentencing recommendation.