LOCKPORT — An 18-year-old was sentenced Tuesday to five years of probation, with the first six months to be served in county jail, for secretly filming two women and an underage male as they used the bathroom last autumn.
Derek Fitzgerald of Keil Street, North Tonawanda, placed a spy camera in bathrooms in North Tonawanda homes and in a unisex bathroom of a Boards of Cooperative Educational Services school in Cambria, according to Assistant District Attorney Cheryl Grundy.
Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sheldon said Fitzgerald secretly filmed a total of nine victims, including those in a separate criminal case in Erie County. However, because Fitzgerald was granted youthful offender status in Erie County, those court records are sealed.
Defense attorney Andrew Vona indicated Fitzgerald has served three months of a probation sentence handed down in Erie County.
Fitzgerald, who was 17 years old when he committed the crimes, filmed the female victims from North Tonawanda homes and recorded the underage male from the camera he placed in the BOCES bathroom, Grundy said.
Another student eventually found the camera in BOCES, leading to Fitzgerald's arrest.
Fitzgerald pleaded guilty July 26 to second-degree unlawful surveillance, a felony punishable by up to four years in prison.
Grundy asked Sheldon to hand Fitzgerald a split sentence of jail-time and probation, saying the spying will have lifelong impacts on the victims. "It's an incredibly personal crime," she said.
Sheldon denied Vona's request for youthful offender status and handed Fitzgerald the combination jail and probation sentence. She also noted, after a request from a victim, that Fitzgerald's conviction is not classified as a sex offense, so he will not be required to register as a sex offender.