Saanich grocery store employees file suit against alleged ‘peeping tom’

Claim alleges images taken in employee washroom shared on internet

Two former employees of a Saanich grocery store have filed a class-action suit over illicit images of themselves that were allegedly taken in an employee washroom and shared over the internet.

The claim alleges that images were taken by a former employee at the Red Barn Market at Mattick’s Farm, who set up a video camera in a washroom at various times between 2009 and 2014. The claim also alleges there are at least six more victims.

The washrooms were for employees but were also made available to the public upon request.

The first plaintiff in the claim, Jennifer Burke, worked at the store between 2007 and 2012, while Mallory Colter worked there between 2012 and 2014. The claim identifies the defendant as Matthew Schwabe, the son of one the owners of Red Barn. He worked at the Cordova Bay store from 2009 until sometime between 2014 and 2016.

It wasn’t until 2016 that Burke was approached by Saanich Police and shown images of herself on a Russian-based porn site (including her name in caption), that she learned she was a victim of the alleged behaviour, claims a release to media from the plaintiffs’ legal team, Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy.

“In January of 2016 we started the investigation into a voyeurism complaint regarding a grocery store employee in Saanich,” said Saanich Police Sgt. Jereme Leslie. “We had a complainant come forward stating they had found images of [herself] online. That’s how we began the investigation, and through that process we were able to identify and speak to nine potential victims.”

According to the civil claim, Burke was able to identify six additional young women on the same Russian site, five of whom were Red Barn employees.

“There could be dozens of people filmed,” Burke said in the release.

“The videos were taken in a space [people] believed was private and ought to have been private,” Colter said.

Saanich Police executed search warrants and gathered evidence which led to an arrest. However, charges against the suspect have not been sworn and Leslie is unsure when those will come in.

“Saanich Police is satisfied that we’ve identified and contacted the potential victims but the investigation is still ongoing.” Leslie said. “They can be very complicated in these types of cases, long in nature, with a lot of information to sort through.”

Colter says that in February 2016 members of the Saanich Police made her aware of images on the internet that included a picture from her Facebook page, her identity and explicit photos taken from the Red Barn washroom.

The civil suit also claims that during an early morning shift in 2013, the alleged defendant showed his genitalia to a young female but escaped any notable repercussion.

In all, the claim seeks damages to compensate for the emotional and physical harm suffered by the plaintiffs in an amount to be assessed by the court.

Just Posted

Disqualified Saanich soccer team disputes ruling

Saanich Fusion U15 girls alleged to have ineligible players

B.C. freestyle skier wins gold

Cassie Sharpe of Comox shines in the halfpipe

UPDATED: Emergency crews rescue pregnant woman from Mount Finlayson

Langford and Metchosin respond to roughly four-hour-long rescue

Victoria police pay special attention to domestic violence

Workshop for officers and others shows how domestic abuse trauma impacts for a long time

Peninsula speed skater has eyes on the podium at BC Winter Games

Tori Kalyniuk will have her Skittles ready before each race

Oak Bay skaters bound for BC Games in Kamloops

Saanich resident aims for second gold

Environmentalists call on Saanich to protect public waterfront

Local environmentalists are calling on Saanich to develop a strategy to stop… Continue reading

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Canada rounds out Day 11 earning gold in 2 more events

Comox Valley’s Cassie Sharpe and fan-favourites Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir all earned golds

Saanich Braves earn top awards heading into playoffs

MVP, Coach of Year lead Braves against Kerry Park Islanders starting Tuesday

Trudeau announces two-way $1 billion investment deal with India

Some of India’s biggest companies to invest more than $250 million in Canada in the coming years

As ‘Black Panther’ shows, inclusion pays at the box office

At the box office, inclusion is paying — and often, it’s paying off big time

Saanich council gives no credit to tax plan

Efforts by Coun. Fred Haynes to change the financing of municipal election… Continue reading

Washington senator wants B.C. to follow suit and phase out net-pen fish farms

An American ban will be less effective in the shared ecosystem of the Salish Sea, senator says

Virtue and Moir end ice dance careers with Olympic gold

Virtue and Moir’s gold medal win at the Olympics makes them the world’s most decorated figure skaters

Most Read