Secret camera in women's bathroom nets little jail time for Valdez man
New sentencing laws tie the hands of judges as they work through SB 91
Valdez Star photo
Valdez police escort Kalvin Paulsen into court last week for sentencing on a felony count of destroying evidence after he was caught hiding a camera and recording a woman in a restroom.
A Valdez man who hid a video camera in the women's bathroom across the bay will serve 30 days in jail.
Judge Gregory Heath sentenced Kalvin Paulsen, age 29, to 30 days in jail with credit for time served. He received a three-year suspended sentence for tampering with evidence, a class C felony.
The sentence for the felony was meted out last Thursday in Valdez court after a sentencing delay on the three misdemeanor counts was handed out in August. The misdemeanor charges were for "Indecent View/Photo w/o Consent-Of Adult."
Paulsen was remanded into police custody at the time of the misdemeanor sentencing.
Paulsen first came to police attention in February of 2015 when a report was made that a camera was found hidden in a machine that dispenses feminine protection that was located inside a women's bathroom at Alyeska's Oil Response Building "generally operated by TCC employees."
In April 2015, Paulsen was indicted and charged with three felony counts of indecent View/Photo w/o Consent-Of Minor, 20 misdemeanor counts for secretly recording an adult, and the felony charge of tampering with evidence.
He later entered a plea bargain agreement to plead guilty to three misdemeanor counts and the felony evidence tampering charge
Paulsen received the suspended imposition of sentencing on the felony charge thanks to SB 91,a piece of legislation passed by lawmakers last July, which was touted as an "omnibus crime reform bill" by its sponsors, Under the provisions of the bill, class C felonies do not call for jail time for the offender unless the prosecutor presents evidence of aggravating factors to the charge.
The seemingly light sentence sent visible ripples of aggravation through the court room.
Heath said that after reviewing the new sentencing guidelines under SB91, his hands were tied in the matter.
"The court is not allowed under the sanction to impose time," Heath said during the sentencing.
Paulsen had no prior criminal history before he was accused of crimes after the camera was found in the bathroom in 2015.
"He will be on probation for three years," Heath said.
Heath noted Paulsen's probation report - a confidential document - rated the defendant in the low risk category for reoffending and has a high potential for rehabilitating himself.
"The community looks at his conduct and is aghast," the judge noted before also imposing a large fine.
"There is no imprisonment but the court is going to impose a $10,000 fine," he said, and added community service requirements of 300 hundred hours, plus the cost of various surcharges related to his arrest and incarceration.
Paulsen will not be required to register as a sex offender.
"This is not a sex offender registration case," Heath said.
Assistant District Attorney Eric Senta, who appeared telephonically, as did the judge and defense attorney, Reginald Christie, argued for less suspended time.
Senta noted that one of the victims of Paulsen's camera was a minor and that all of the victims expressed feelings of embarrassment, shame and betrayal.
"The defendant took advantage of a 13-year old girl," Senta told the court.
According to court documents, Valdez police began the investigation February 5 when a call came in from Alyeska security, reporting "...a hidden spy camera had been found in the toilet stall of the ladies restroom on the Alyeska Terminal..."
A review of the camera's footage showed a man's face at least twice, which employees pegged as Paulsen.
The camera also recorded a female employee urinating.
Court documents say Officer Andrew Pritchett began the investigation immediately by interviewing 11 TCC employees and one Alyeska employee who were in the building at the time of the discovery.
A female employee told Pritchett that she spotted the devise in the dispenser and at the time she believed it was a Bluetooth earpiece. It wasn't until another employee discovered it contained an SD card that those involved recognized it as a camera.
Photo courtesy VPD
Kalvin Paulsen's jail mug shot.
Pritchett later found the SD card had 13 videos previously deleted from the devise and nine that were currently on the devise, which he said was motion activated.
A search warrant was issued and evidence seized from Paulsen's work locker and the living space he rented from a roommate.
The warrant application stated that fellow employees described Paulsen demeanor as generally withdrawn, quiet and reclusive. His roommate told police that "Paulsen keeps to himself and does not talk (sic) to many people and avoids contact with others."'
The indictment that later yielded charges with other victims was not handed down for another two months after he was arrested.