The proprietor of a local convenience store was charged Monday with being a peeping Tom after an employee said she found evidence he was spying on her in the bathroom.
Sabrina Waters said she quit her job Sunday at Lucky Food Mart on Sinkhole Road at Georgia Highway 46. According to Bulloch County Jail records, her employer, Mihir Sanat Patel, 25, of Sinkhole Road, was arrested and charged with being a peeping Tom.
According to a preliminary incident report, which is incomplete, Bulloch County sheriff's deputies seized surveillance video footage and photographed evidence at the scene after Waters reported discovering that Patel had spied on her using a hole in the wall while she was in the store bathroom.
Waters said she was speaking to a former employee of the store, who told her about the hole in the wall, on Wednesday, alleging tjat Patel used it to spy on women in the bathroom.
"I kind of brushed it off and went on about my day," Waters said. But on Friday, she stopped at the store and when she was in the bathroom, she became suspicious.
"I was the only other person in the store at the time with the exception of my employer (Patel). Mike was sitting behind the counter on his laptop at the time. I didn't think anything of it. A few minutes later I heard the floor creak and sort of looked around for the (hole in the wall the former employee mentioned)," she said.
"I didn't see anything so I blew it off."
But when she returned to work Sunday, "I went to the restroom. I was cleaning up a small bit of water on the floor in front of the toilet, and as I leaned over I noticed daylight."
She went back out into the store and asked her son, who was there with her, to go into the bathroom and turn on the bathroom light.
"To my horror, the toilet was in plain view from the hole," Waters said. "It then dawned on me that Mike had been watching me on Friday."
Waters then went to the room holding the surveillance equipment, which she said was barricaded with cornhole boards. She entered anyway, and when she could not locate the computer mouse, she used her own that came with her laptop, she said.
"The video clearly shows Mike getting up from his chair and positioning himself near the hole," she said. "He disappears out of camera view and then returns in a hurry a few minutes later perched on the chair and acting nonchalant as if nothing had happened."
Waters then contacted the Bulloch County Sheriff's Office, and Cpl. Prethenia Y. Cone responded, according to reports. Later, Investigator Dusty Williams was called to the scene, and an investigation began, according to the incident report.
Patel was arrested Monday.
"I am so angry that someone could take something so precious from me in that moment," Waters said, adding that there is no telling how many other people who may have been victimized. "My privacy ... is so important. I don't understand how one person's momentary actions can make you feel so violated."
Patel is being held without bond, according to jail records.
Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.