FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 7, 2014
POINT OF CONTACT: Lt Neal Griffin, 760-839-4444
Recent reports out of Massachusetts of the inability to convict a man who took “up-skirt” pictures of unsuspecting women, were met with alarm and disbelief throughout the country. California residents needn’t be concerned about a similar situation, as evidenced by the recent multi-jurisdictional investigation that led to the arrest and conviction of an Oceanside man. On February 24th, Brian Gail Valencia, 27, of Oceanside was convicted of three separate counts of violating CA Penal Code section 647(j)(2): Disorderly Conduct by Using Concealed Camera to Film Under Clothing. There were a number of other similar incidents throughout the North County in which Valencia was identified as the suspect covering a period of two years. Detectives of the Escondido Police Department identified Valencia as the suspect in three up-skirt cases in the city of Escondido.
In September 2012, a victim contacted the Escondido Police to report that while she shopping inside a clothing store in Escondido, she became aware of a man who was using a cell phone camera to take pictures under her clothing. The victim confronted the suspect, who then fled. The victim was only able to provide a general description. A few weeks later, a similar incident reportedly occurred on an escalator in an Escondido shopping center. Then in March, 2013, a third incident was reported. In each case a similar description was provided of an Asian Male, possibly in his thirties, targeting women while they shopped. No other leads were available.
On March 21, 2013, Valencia was arrested by the San Diego Sheriff’s Department at an electronics store in San Marcos after he was caught using a phone to take video under a woman’s clothing. EPD Detective Jeff Udvarhelyi learned of the arrest and contacted the Sheriff’s Department and began a joint investigation. An in depth investigation was conducted that included the seizure of phone records, still photographs and videos from Valencia, as well as a search warrant served at Valencia’ home. This investigation led to Valencia not only be identified as the suspect in all three Escondido cases, but he was also identified as the culprit in additional cases reported to the police departments in Oceanside and Carlsbad. Review of the evidence also enabled Detective Udvarhelyi to identify and locate victims who had never reported the crimes because they did not know they had been filmed by Valencia. In total, Valencia was identified in nine separate cases of up-skirt filming throughout the North County and he was also found to have two prior arrests for similar incidents.
Detective Jeff Udvarhelyi, the lead investigator for EPD, offers the following insight. “Unfortunately, women need to be constantly vigilant and aware of their surroundings, particularly in public places where someone is invading their personal space.”
In February 2014, Valencia pled guilty to three cases in a pre-arranged plea agreement. Although Valencia was able to avoid jail time, he has been ordered to register as a sexual offender and this is a lifetime requirement. Valencia is also banned from all shopping centers in the cities where he committed his offenses. In the event Valencia is arrested for a similar act in the future he will be facing time in prison.
The California statute 647(j)(2) is a well-established law which criminalizes anyone using any recording or photographic device to film or photograph the body or undergarments of a person without their consent or knowledge for the purposes of sexual gratification. Although this statute does not require mandatory registration as a sex offender per California Penal Code 290, a judge can order a subject to register as a sex offender for this offense if the court finds at the time of conviction or sentencing that the person committed the offense as a result of sexual compulsion or for purposes of sexual gratification.