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Woman rejects plea offer in Great Escape video case

Woman rejects plea offer in Great Escape video case

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QUEENSBURY — A former Capital District woman who allegedly used a tiny camera to videotape people using a bathroom at The Great Escape amusement park last summer rejected a plea deal offer Friday, as she appealed for a sentence that would keep her out of prison.

Valerie N. Hewitt, 29, of Middleville, Herkimer County, turned down a plea offer that would require her to plead guilty to a felony and send her to state prison for a minimum of 1 to 3 years and a maximum of 2 to 6 years.

Hewitt and her then-husband, James C. Hewitt, 31, of Watervliet, were arrested last fall after a multi-agency investigation into illicit videotaping at stores in the Capital District and the amusement park in Queensbury.

Valerie Hewitt’s lawyer, Kurt Haas, said his client wanted Hall to consider a sentence of 10 years on probation, as he was seeking a sex offender assessment of his client.

Warren County First Assistant District Attorney Matthew Burin said it would be up to Warren County District Attorney Jason Carusone to determine if a proposal that could spare Valerie Hewitt a jail or prison term would be acceptable to prosecutors.

Hall warned Ms. Hewitt that she risked a lengthier sentence if convicted at trial.

“You don’t have to plead guilty to anything. You are entitled to a trial,” Hall said.

Police said the videos were filmed last July 7, in a bathroom with lockers near the Great Escape’s “Dare Devil Dive” attraction, between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Police have not been able to identify the people on the videos, however.

The Hewitts have each 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, while Mrs. Hewitt faces two additional felony charges of dissemination of unlawful surveillance.

Court records show she told police that her husband forced her to record the videos, and was physically abusive toward her. She came forward to Watervliet Police last August to inform them of what they had done, leading to a multi-agency investigation.

Police said there was no indication the videos were shared online or with other people.

The couple may face charges in other counties as well.

Written statements filed in Warren County Court 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.

Hall adjourned the case until March 6 for further plea discussions. No court date has been set for Mr. Hewitt’s case.

Don Lehman covers police and court matters, Warren County government and the outdoors. He can be reached at 518-742-3224 or dlehman@poststar.com

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