QUEENSBURY — Police are trying to identify six adults and two children who were illegally videotaped using a bathroom at Great Escape amusement park last summer, as court records allege videos were shot at numerous other businesses around the Capital District.
The Warren County Sheriff’s Office said the videos that were recovered that were shot at Great Escape were recorded on July 7, in a bathroom with lockers near the “Dare Devil Dive” attraction. Sheriff’s Lt. Steve Stockdale said the videos show six adults and two young children, around the age of 4, using the bathroom.
Two people were arrested in recent days for alleged illicit videotaping of the adults and children using the bathroom at the Queensbury amusement park, and court records filed in their cases outline a much broader scheme to obtain videos of women and kids in public bathrooms around the region.
James C. Hewitt, 31, of Watervliet, and his estranged wife, Valerie Hewitt, of Middleville in Herkimer County, face charges in a 14-count indictment that was unsealed this week in Warren County Court.
They pleaded not guilty to two felony counts each of unlawful surveillance, promoting a sexual performance by a child and possessing a sexual performance by a child.
Mrs. Hewitt faces two additional felony charges of dissemination of unlawful surveillance.
Mr. Hewitt was arraigned Wednesday and freed on bail Thursday. Mrs. Hewitt was arraigned Thursday and sent to jail as well, but her lawyer, Cheryl Coleman, said bail would be posted later Thursday.
Written statements filed in Warren County Court at her arraignment show Mrs. Hewitt told police that she also recorded videos in bathrooms at Saratoga Casino & Raceway, Rivers Casino in Schenectady, Walmart stores in Albany County and Price Chopper in Watervliet in recent years.
She told police that her husband forced her to record people in women’s restrooms, using a small, pen-like recording device she attached to her purse.
In Mrs. Hewitt’s statements, she said he was “physically and verbally abusive” toward her and threatened to kill her if she didn’t make the recordings.
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“I begged him to not make me do it,” she is quoted as telling Watervliet Police. “I feared for my life.”
Mr. Hewitt would review the videos, and “if James didn’t like it, he would delete it.”
Coleman said the investigation began in July when her client went to Watervliet Police to tell them of the videos, which the couple had also allegedly been recording at the Price Chopper store in Watervliet for a period of about two years. Both Hewitts have been criminally charged in Watervliet as well. The two have since split up.
“She went to the police on her own and told them all of the information about this,” Coleman said. “She went there only to do the right thing.”
Police said there was no indication the videos were publicly shared.
Warren County Assistant District Attorney Ben Smith told Warren County Judge John Hall that Mrs. Hewitt was the “primary actor” in the recording of the videos, though he acknowledged she went to police to disclose the crimes.
Stockdale said the Sheriff’s Office has been inundated with phone calls from people concerned they were videotaped.
He said police have been able to determine through video time stamps that the videos were shot in the one bathroom between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. on July 7.
Stockdale said staff from Great Escape has been working closely with investigators.
“They are putting all of their resources to work to help us,” Stockdale said.
Anyone with information in the Great Escape case was asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 518-743-2500.
Don Lehman covers police and court matters and Warren County government. He can be reached at 518-742-3224 or firstname.lastname@example.org