A Mobile man was arrested Sept. 7 after a mother confronted him allegedly using a cell phone to take pictures of her 11-year-old daughter and others in the restroom of the San Miguel restaurant on Schillinger Road.
According to Mobile Metro Jail records, 27-year-old Patrick Scott Herron was arrested on Sunday afternoon and charged with four misdemeanor counts of criminal surveillance before making bond less than for hours later.Police have released no information about the incident, but the victim’s mother, Robyn Glass, did recount some of the details on her public Facebook profile. According her post, which had been shared more than 5,000 times Monday, surveillance video from the restaurant showed that “(Herron) had been in the restroom for over an hour videoing 15 minors using the restroom.”
After confronting him and demanding he empty his pockets, Glass said Herron ran from the restaurant, but she and others gave chase.
According to Glass, when Herron’s car was searched authorities found “a knife, a rope and other cell phones.”
Glass said she was alerted to Herron being in the restroom after her daughter’s friend noticed a phone hovering over the top of the stall where Herron had allegedly been hiding.
The charge of criminal surveillance, which was established in 1997, only implies that a person “intentionally engages in surveillance while trespassing on private property” and does not reflect charges that could be related to child pornograpny.
Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich said that’s because “in order for us to charge someone with child pornography there has to be photographs of a child’s genitalia taken.”
Rich said photographs of the phone didn’t show any pictures of children’s genitalia but could may have shown the genitalia of adults, which Rich said is not a crime in and of itself.
According to Rich, only a preliminary investigation of Herron’s phone has been done, but a more detailed forensic examination is underway. She also said there were “other factors” at play and added that once the investigation moves further along, her office would be making a decision about upgrading Herron’s charges.
“It’s still very early, but we’re going to do everything we can to make sure we bring the highest possible charges against him,” Rich said. “I take this very seriously. I have children of my own, and we should all be allowed to send our children to the bathroom without being subject to this type of behavior.”
Even if no further evidence is turned over, Alabama law allows Rich and other prosecutors to enact tougher penalties for people charged with criminal surveillance “for the purpose of sexual gratification.”
In 2012, a bill sponsored by Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) gave prosecutors the discretion to place those convicted of criminal surveillance under those circumstance on the sex offender registry.
That bill was prompted by a “peeping tom” in the Decatur area who was repeatedly arrested for criminal surveillance without any substantial criminal consequence.