Photo voyeur avoids jail, gets sex offender label

OLYMPIA - A 30-year-old Bellevue man accused of taking photos showing the undergarments of female participants at a Capital High School drill and dance competition in February avoided jail time at his sentencing Thursday, but he must register as a sex offender for 10 years.

Matthew Conrad Anderson, a 2006 graduate of the University of Washington, earlier had pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted voyeurism, both gross misdemeanors, as part of a plea deal. He initially was charged with two counts of felony voyeurism.

Anderson was arrested Feb. 28, after several of the girls competing in the event told their fathers that “a man had been taking pictures up their skirts while they were sitting on the bleachers,” court documents state.

According to court papers:

Several of the fathers approached Anderson, asking if they could see the photos he was taking, but he refused. The fathers detained Anderson until police arrived.

Anderson told one parent, “I admit it, I am a pervert and I was taking pictures of your children.”

Police seized Anderson’s cameras and found photos showing “a close up view of the young girl’s groin area showing her ‘spankies’ or outside underwear.”

A witness told police that “Anderson had been seen roaming beneath the bleachers” as the drill and dance team members sat there, and Anderson was “taking photographs of the teenagers from below.”

Anderson’s attorney, Erik Kupka of Aberdeen, said he struggled with whether to take the case to trial, but that the plea deal allowed Anderson to avoid a felony conviction and jail time. Kupka said he does not think the girls had “a reasonable expectation of privacy,” given that they were in a public place and wearing uniforms.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor sentenced Anderson to a suspended one-year jail sentence and to one year of community supervision by the state Department of Corrections.

Sex offenders must register for 10 years for gross misdemeanor or class C felony sex offenses. Sex offenders are subject to 20 years of sex-offender registration if they commit a class B felony sex offense, and a lifetime of sex offender registration if they commit a class A felony sex offense.

Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney Special Trials Division Chief Christy Peters said the victims’ families and police are aware of the plea deal and supported punishment that required Anderson to register as a sex offender.

It remains to be seen whether Anderson will have to register as a Level 1, 2 or 3 sex offender. In Washington, Level 1 offenders are under the least severe restrictions and typically have to report to verify their addresses with a local sheriff’s office. Level 1 sex offenders do not have their names or photos published on Washington’s sex-offender Web site.

Level 3 offenders do have their names and photos published on the site, and people are notified, through the news media or a public meeting when a Level 3 sex offender will live among them.

Because he lives in Bellevue, Anderson will have to register as a sex offender in King County. King County Sheriff’s spokesman John Urquhart said Thursday that the King County Sheriff’s Office will perform an evaluation to determine whether Anderson will register as a Level 1, 2 or 3 sex offender.

Kupka said he is confident that Anderson will register as a Level 1 offender.

Kupka also said that Anderson wanted to take responsibility for his actions in accepting the plea deal. Anderson apologized in court Thursday.

“I made a very bad mistake, and I am very sorry to have done so,” he said.

In a pre-sentence investigation interview, Anderson acknowledged that what he did was wrong. “I knew in my guts it was not the right thing to do, but in my head I justified it,” he said.

In a written statement, Anderson added, “From the perspective I was sitting and the posture of the dancers, there was an angle of inappropriate photography. The dancers did have their full uniform on, but it is still a revealing uniform.”

Tabor told Anderson “this type of offense strikes fear in the heart of anybody that’s a parent.”

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5465