One after the other on Tuesday, four women urged the District Court Judge Bill Simpson to impose the maximum sentence on the man who secretly videotaped them in a workplace bathroom last …
One after the other on Tuesday, four women urged the District Court Judge Bill Simpson to impose the maximum sentence on the man who secretly videotaped them in a workplace bathroom last year.
Scott G. Abraham had agreed to a plea deal that would involve serving a two- to four-year prison sentence. The women, however, said their former coworker deserved the max four to eight years.
“I just think as strong, independent women, we need to raise our children to recognize that this is wrong,” said the final woman to speak, identified only as Victim 4. “This isn’t something that should be washed under the table or forgot about or been given a minimal sentence.”
The remarks from Abraham’s four victims were enough to persuade Judge Simpson; their testimony, he said, “has certainly had a significant impact on the court.”
In a rare move, Simpson told the Park County prosecutor and Abraham’s defense attorney that he wanted to add four years of supervised probation onto the stipulated two to four years of prison time.
“Supervised probation is critical,” Simpson said. He said cases like Abraham’s stem from some kind of sexual deviation and “frankly, an illness that needs treatment [or] it won’t go away.”
The judge gave Abraham some time to decide whether he’ll accept the revised sentence. If the Lovell area resident rejects it, he’ll be allowed to withdraw the guilty pleas he entered Tuesday and the case will instead be scheduled for a trial — which Simpson acknowledged would be hard on the victims.
The judge did not give the defense or prosecution to defend or explain the agreement before proposing the modified sentence and putting the hearing on hold — nor did he give the defendant a chance to address the court. Simpson indicated they will get a chance to speak when the hearing resumes next month.
Abraham, 50, set up a camera in the women’s bathroom at their workplace in Powell last year.
“[I was] hoping to get away with something I shouldn’t have,” Abraham said at Tuesday’s hearing, held via teleconference. “Unfortunately, I had seen other images that caught my interest and … I decided to try it in real life.”
The women said he set it up knowing their schedules and timing it specifically to catch them as they changed clothes and used the restroom.
One of the women spotted the device on a cabinet beneath the sink on June 18, 2019. The camera was recognized as Abraham’s and after an investigation by Powell police, he was charged with four felony counts of voyeurism. That’s one count for each of the four women who were captured in states of undress.
Abraham said he never viewed the images captured by the camera, that they were never taken off the device and that it had been the only time he’d set up a camera in the bathroom. However, the women said in court that they will never know if the images are still floating around somewhere — and evidence gathered by police suggested the camera had also been set up in late August 2018.
As he entered his guilty pleas to the four counts, Abraham said the women “absolutely” had an expectation of privacy in the bathroom.
“.. There is no more private place than a bathroom,” Victim 1 told the court, calling it “a place where you trust you’ll have complete and total privacy.”
She said the emotional toll of the crime was immeasurable, as was the stress — which was heightened when Abraham made bail shortly after his November arrest.
“No one should have to live with this fear, embarrassment and stress because of another person’s selfish, disgusting, not to mention illegal actions,” Victim 1 said.
Adding to the embarrassment and difficulty, she said, is knowing that Powell police viewed the images during the agency’s investigation.
“I don’t feel comfortable in the community,” echoed Victim 4. “It is really hard to stay here.”
Simpson encouraged the four women to identify themselves only as victims 1, 2, 3 and 4 during the hearing. Two of the women initially gave their names, but Simpson took the unusual step of striking the names from the official transcript of the proceeding and said any disclosure of their identities would constitute a violation of a court order. Though he acknowledged there is “not a lot of statutory authority” on the subject, Simpson said the precautions are “necessary to protect their rights and their privacy, which has clearly been violated.”
In their remarks, the four women all described having their lives upended by the incident in different ways.
“I’ve always considered myself a person who genuinely believes the best in people and often gives second chances,” Victim 3 said. “This event has caused me to question the fundamental element of what makes me, me.”
After the experience with Abraham, the victim said she constantly wonders what else she’s misjudging.
She and the other women described disrupted personal relationships, shaken confidence, a general wariness of men, coworkers or strangers, discomfort around public restrooms, physical illness, anger and the fear of constantly being watched. All four have sought counseling and one purchased a new security system.
“It makes me literally sick to think about the parts of my body he has seen and what he’s done with them,” Victim 2 told the judge. “Knowing my young teenage and pre-teenage daughter were in that restroom makes it all even worse.”
David Sauceda, a victim-witness coordinator for the Park County Attorney’s Office, said the four women had “been very involved in the process from its onset and … were given an opportunity to at least ponder the plea agreement.” He said the victims might share more thoughts about the deal in their remarks and they did — each asking Judge Simpson to instead impose the maximum sentence.
“I understand Scott Abraham won’t always be in prison,” said Victim 2, “but I would really appreciate some time to start emotionally healing from the damage he’s caused before he gets to be free.”
Victim 1 called on the judge to make an example out of Abraham to deter others who might try the same thing.
“He may not be a physical threat to society, but he is definitely a threat to children and women in all areas that have restrooms,” she said. “These types of people and behaviors should not be accepted in our society.”
Victim 1 said she’s also working to have the Wyoming Legislature toughen the state’s laws on voyeurism, which carries a maximum two-year sentence and does not require registration as a sex offender.
Victim 3 said she feared for Abraham’s next employer and coworkers.
“It could be months or years after the completion of his sentence, but I put money on him victimizing the innocent again in his lifetime,” she said.
Although he didn’t go along with the women’s request to impose the maximum amount of prison time, Simpson said he wanted to address their concerns by adding the probation.
Deputy Park County Attorney Saige Smith requested an opportunity to make arguments as to “why the agreement was reasonable,” among other comments, when the hearing resumes next month.
Defense attorney Craig Abraham — who is Scott Abraham’s cousin — said he might call a witness or witnesses on his client’s behalf. The Gillette attorney explained that he had not anticipated having anyone testify at the hearing, but “in light of what the court’s heard [from the victims], I may need to.”