UBC Okanagan student charged with voyeurism

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UBC Okanagan student charged with voyeurism
WATCH: A man has been charged with voyeurism a year after he allegedly tried to sneak a picture of a woman while she was using the bathroom. Jules Knox reports. – Mar 18, 2021

A man is heading to court after he allegedly slipped his phone under a bathroom stall and tried to sneak pictures of a woman.

Sari Siyam is now charged with voyeurism.

Taylor, whose real name is protected by a publication ban because of the sexual nature of the offence, said she was using the gender-neutral washroom at UBC Okanagan in March 2020 when she noticed the camera pointing at her.

Read more: UBCO responds to report highlighting sexual violence faced by Canadian post-secondary students

“So instantly I panic and yell pretty loudly,” she said. “And immediately the phone sort of gets lifted up, so at that point, it sort of becomes a bit of a fight-or-flight response.”

Taylor said she felt violated and confused.

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Read more: Reaction pours in following RCMP report into Central Okanagan sexual assault investigations

She confronted the man when he finally came out of the stall.

Taylor said he denied taking pictures, and she couldn’t find any on his phone.

However, a few days later, she spotted the suspect on campus and called security because she was still disturbed and freaked out about the incident.

Read more: Kelowna Mountie found not guilty of sexual assault

“And then he admitted that, yes, he was filming,” Taylor said.

That hasn’t been proven in court.

However, Taylor said a police officer did tell her that there was enough evidence to press charges.

“And then he sort of chuckled and said, ‘Oh, he’s never going to get a job’,” she said.

“All I could think about was that one sentence,” she said.

“I don’t want his life to be ruined.”

The next time Taylor met with the officer, she said he started sharing personal information about the alleged perpetrator.

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“He told me what program (Siyam) was in. He was in a co-op, that he thinks he comes from good family values,” Taylor said. “That he showed great remorse, that he was bawling his eyes out during his statement.”

Taylor said the officer then told her that he didn’t think Siyam was at risk to reoffend.

She felt pressured by the officer not to press for charges, so she let it go.

But Taylor wanted Siyam to face repercussions for his alleged actions, so she pursued a misconduct file at the university.

Taylor said that’s when UBC Okanagan officials got involved, putting pressure on police to take another look at the case.

This time a different officer was assigned to the case, Taylor said.

Read more: High number of dismissed sexual assault cases in Kelowna sparks protest

“I told her, really, the only thing I want is to make sure this person never does that again,” she said. “I have no intention of ruining his life.”

“And I remember her saying, ‘Well first of all, you didn’t ruin his life. If anything, he did that by his actions’,” Taylor said.

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Taylor decided to move ahead with pressing charges.

One charge of voyeurism has now been laid against Siyam.

Taylor is worried there might have been other victims, but she said it’s a relief that he’s being held accountable for his alleged actions.

“The most stressful thing was feeling like it was all up to me what happened to this guy,” she said. “If I didn’t ask to press charges, or if I didn’t file an academic misconduct complaint, nothing would have happened to him.”

“I really think the justice system needs to stop taking so much pity on young men in our society who are sexual offenders,” she said.

The allegations against Siyam have not been proven in court.

RCMP declined an interview about the case.

Read more: Okanagan RCMP officer admitted to misconduct after sexting assault victim: court documents

“We are very mindful that this matter and the full investigative findings are now with the BC Prosecution Service and we do not want to restrict or impede the judicial process in any way,” police said in a statement.

“Our officers continue to work with the victim, in order to ensure she has any and all supports necessary, as these criminal investigations and in turn the judicial system can be complex to navigate.”

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Siyam is expected to be in court on April 29.

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