New Brunswick

Ex-YMCA staffer's trial starts over hidden locker room camera

Hugh James Clifford Croll, who is charged with voyeurism in connection with a hidden video camera being discovered in the men's and boys' locker room at the Fredericton YMCA in 2012, is scheduled to stand trial today.

Former Fredericton employee charged for hiding video camera in men's locker in bid to catch thief

The trial of a former Fredericton YMCA employee charged with voyeurism in connection with a hidden video camera being discovered in the men's and boys' locker room, is underway.

Hugh James Clifford Croll enters the Fredericton courthouse on Wednesday. (CBC)
Hugh James Clifford Croll, 54, is accused of surreptitiously making visual recordings of people who had a reasonable expectation of privacy between Oct. 1, 2011 and July 31, 2012.

The matter only became public in April 2014.

Croll was charged last October.

Croll has argued he is not a voyeur; that he set up the video camera in a bid to catch someone breaking into lockers.

Barb Ramsay, the YMCA's chief executive officer, has also said she believes there was no sexual intent involved.

Michele McKinley who worked at the welcome desk of the YMCA for more than 20 years, testified there were several security cameras in the facility and the one for the locker room was normally pointed at where people put their boots as they enter the locker room.

But one day in 2012 she pressed on the button marked "men's locker room" and saw a man going to a locker.

McKinley testified she called her supervisor and they were both "shocked."

McKinley said she "knew it wasn't right."

Theft complaint

Having notified her supervisor, McKinley thought the issue was taken care of. 

Under cross-examination, McKinley said there had been thefts in the facility, members had been issued notices about them and cameras were installed in the hallway and boot room.

Someone had reported their work boots were stolen from the locker room in the summer of 2012 and that's what prompted her to click the button to view the men's locker room.

Instead of boots, McKinley saw a bank of lockers and then a man opening a locker. She can't remember if he was clothed or not.

It was the only time she ever saw such an image on the locker room camera, she said.

McKinley said she did not know the camera was there because of notices about thefts.

Another YMCA staffer, Shawna White, testified she was told about the camera in the summer of 2012, and that fellow employee, Eryn Craft, took the matter directly to then-CEO Kathy Russell. White told the court Russell knew about the camera and told Craft she was to "keep quiet about it."

The camera was only removed by police in March 2014 under the tenure of subsequent CEO Barb Ramsay.

Const. Terry Francis of the Fredericton police was the first person to testify.

Francis said on March 3, 2014 he was called to the YMCA, where there was a surveillance camera in the men's locker room. The camera was in the far right corridor, at the top of a wall near the ceiling.

Francis said the camera wasn't detectable until you got within two or three metres of it and were looking high the the wall. Police seized the equipment.

The area within view of the surveillance camera was the entryway, the lockers and the change area, testified Francis.

Under cross-examination by defence attorney Daniel Leger, Francis said the shower area and toilet area was not visible from the camera's vantage point.

Francis testified he didn't see the footage recorded by the camera, but said it recorded something between Feb. 25 and Feb. 28 in 2014.

Why in hell is there a camera in the men's locker room?- Stacey Thornton YMCA staffer

The palm-sized camera measured about 3.5 cm by 3.5 cm. One of its wires was cut when it was seized on March 3, 2014.

The computer hard drive from the camera was sent to the RCMP's audio/video unit in Ottawa, said Francis.

Among others who testified Wednesday was Stacey Thornton, who works in the YMCA's accounts payable department. She told the court she confronted Hugh Cross on July 26, 2012, after learning about the camera from another staffer. 

She said she asked him, "Why in the hell is there a camera in the men's locker room?" Thornton said Croll told her he didn't think it was a big deal. "He told me he had installed it," she said. She told the court that Croll said the work was done with help from a contract employee. They ran the lines leading from the camera through the ceiling.

Another witness was Rick Mason, owner on an electronic surveillance company, HIS Security and Automation. He told the court he was asked to come to the YMCA after hours in February 2014. Executive Director Barb Ramsay directed him to find a camera in the men's locker room and disable it. He was then asked to do an audit of the entire building to determine if there were other hidden cameras. He didn't find any.

Judge Mary Jane Richards is hearing the case.

Claude Haché is the Crown prosecutor in the case.

The case was initially going to be handled through a post-charge diversion program called alternative measures, which would have allowed Croll to avoid a criminal record by fulfilling certain conditions.​

But Croll failed to meet the required conditions, the court heard in February.

The Fredericton YMCA has 6,200 members.