Mall voyeur to be sentenced

A 35-year-old former loss prevention officer at the J.C. Penney store in the Westfield Capital mall will be sentenced in Olympia on Jan. 21 after pleading guilty this month to two counts of voyeurism.

Michael Anthony Olivas, 35, was arrested in March after two girls, ages 17 and 18, alleged that he coerced them into exposing their breasts, took pictures of them and solicited them for sex after they were caught shoplifting, court papers state.

The girls said Olivas told them that if they took off their clothes, he wouldn’t call police about the shoplifting. They said he then took their photos with a cellphone camera while they were undressed.

Olivas, who lives in Shelton, pleaded guilty to the two counts of voyeurism – each a class C felony – as part of a plea deal in exchange for prosecutors dismissing five other criminal charges.

Prosecutors dismissed two counts of second-degree kidnapping with sexual motivation, two counts of attempted third-degree rape and one count of sexual exploitation of a minor in exchange for Olivas’ guilty plea.

Olivas faces a standard sentence range of between four and 12 months for each count of voyeurism, according to his guilty plea.

Pursuant to the plea deal, prosecutors will recommend that Olivas serve an eight-month sentence, the low end of the standard sentencing range.

Thurston County deputy prosecuting attorney Christy Peters said Monday that Olivas’ felony conviction will likely ensure that he will never again be employed as a loss prevention officer. After his release from custody, he also must register as a sex offender, she said.

Olivas, who lives in Shelton, lost his job at J.C. Penney after his arrest, court papers state. Olivas is not in custody.

Olivas’ attorney, Bruce Finlay of Shelton, said he believes his client was initially overcharged by prosecutors, and Olivas’ acts did not rise to the level of attempted rape or kidnapping, as initially alleged by prosecutors. According to court records:

The girls initially reported to Shelton police that Olivas took them into custody and “threatened and pretended to call the police.”

“Olivas took their cellphones and looked through them for ‘dirty pictures’ and asked them questions about their boyfriends. Olivas coerced them into exposing their nude breasts and semi-clothed groin/buttocks areas to him so he could take pictures with his cellphone to avoid going to jail.”

The girls reported the incident to Shelton police Feb. 24, after the 18-year-old told her boyfriend about the incident. The boyfriend is a cousin of Olivas’, and he confronted Olivas about the incident. The boyfriend alleges “Olivas admitted talking (the girl) into exposing her breasts and had solicited her for sex to keep her out of trouble.”

Olivas later told an Olympia police detective that “both victims exposed their breasts to him and that they did so voluntarily to avoid getting in trouble.”

Olivas told officers he was formerly a law enforcement officer in El Paso, Texas.

Olympia police Lt. Jim Costa has said that it appears that the victims shoplifted clothing from the store on the date in March that they were detained by Olivas.

Costa added, “We do not have a record that he notified our police department that he had people in custody.”

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5465