RCMP in the West Kootenays have commended several young female hockey players for coming forward after the group discovered a hidden cell phone in their changing room at a local arena.
The group of girls, aged 10 to 13, was preparing to hit the ice for their hockey practice on Nov. 16, when one of them made the shocking discovery.
“She just happened to tip her head back, look up into the ceiling and in this little crack she noticed a phone up there,” said the father of an alleged victim.
Global News is protecting the father’s identity. He says the players initially thought someone’s phone got stuck until they retrieved the device from the crack.
“They noticed that the phone was on record and that’s when their mindset changed from an innocent situation to more of somebody trying to record (them) while (they) were in the dressing room,” he said.
“They were able to scroll back through one of the previous videos and it definitely showed the person who owned the phone setting it up.”
Trail RCMP said the phone belonged to an arena employee, “a 21-year-old Trail man who was arrested at the scene,” said Sgt. Mike Wicentowich.
RCMP said investigators will be recommending a charge of voyeurism against the man, who was released on conditions that include no contact with the alleged victims.
The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, the man’s employer, said the man has been suspended after the arrest.
“The individual that’s alleged to have been involved in this has been suspended. He’s not been permitted to enter any of our facilities pending the outcome of the investigation,” said Mark Andison, Regional District of Kootenay Boundary’s chief administrative officer.
Trail RCMP said the arena normally locks change rooms and league protocols typically do not allow parents or recording in those facilities.
“It is concerning that an employee would set up a camera allegedly and do this as it bypasses a lot of those checks and balances in place,” said Wicentowich.
The father of one of the alleged victims is worried there may be lasting effects for the players.
“The dressing room is supposed to be a place of safety for them,” the father said. “It’s a place where they can be vulnerable and now a situation like this has robbed them of that.”
The suspect will make a first court appearance next February.