RCMP officers are working to determine if there is a link between a man charged with secretly recording nudity in a UBC change room and other complaints received on campus and at another institution.
Jay Forster, a 42-year-old Vancouver man, has been charged with two counts of secretly observing or recording nudity in a private place. Police are comparing allegations that Forster secretly recorded a woman in the Osborne Centre gym to complaints of similar incidents on UBC campus and another incident at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT).
“We’ve had other complaints,” said Staff Sgt. Kevin Jones of the UBC RCMP detachment. “So we’re trying to see if we can tie in any other complaints to this individual, both on campus and at BCIT.”
According to an application for a search warrant obtained by The Ubyssey, a woman was changing in the Osborne Centre change room on Sept. 28. She noticed “a movement out of the corner of her eye … and saw a male staring at her at the east end of the locker bank,” according to the application. The document says that the man then fled the scene.
On Oct. 2, the same student asked a friend to accompany her into the Osborne change room because she was uncomfortable. The two began checking the showers, where they allegedly found the suspect.
“When they opened one of them, they saw him inside, not quite huddled, but crouching,” read the application. “They began to scream and he came out of the shower.”
According to the document, the alleged suspect fled and a witness called the RCMP, who pursued him over a fence and into the trails to the south of Thunderbird Stadium.
“As I ran down the eastbound trail, I located the same male matching the description provided to me over the radio heading towards a fence,” read the account of the arresting officer.
“I yelled, ‘Hey, hey, police, stop’ and at this point observed the male already on the fence and attempting to get over…. I approached the fence, jumped over it [and] told the male he was under arrest.”
According to the application, another arresting RCMP officer identified the suspect as Forster and seized his phone. The phone allegedly contained five videos of bathroom stalls with legs underneath and one “with a female who had her pants around her ankles and the video was close enough that [the officer] could see her genitals,” according to the officer’s account.
Forster was taken into custody by the RCMP, and referred to court, where he was charged and released on the condition that he could not possess cellphones or recording devices. According to Staff Sgt. Jones, the court did not grant a request to bar him from the University Endowment Lands and UBC. Forster is due to appear in Richmond Provincial Court on Nov. 1.
According to Jones, University RCMP are working with the Burnaby detachment to confirm if the case is related to a similar incident that took place four days earlier at BCIT, where a man was reportedly taking pictures in a woman’s bathroom. Similar complaints on the UBC campus, one taking place December 2011 in the Osborne Centre, are also under investigation to see if they can be linked.
Paul Wong, director of UBC Campus Security, said it is important to report incidents and suspicious activity to security and the RCMP. “It’s disturbing when it happens, but when it does, we encourage people to report it right away,” he said. “Even if they just felt they suspected that something was happening,… it’s always better to report it, and based on that type of information we can do extra patrols in areas.”
Wong praised the actions of the students. “It sounds like that [student] did a lot of the right things, obviously,” he said. “They had a level of discomfort, they went with a friend, they looked around, and obviously when they spotted somebody they suspected, they alerted others.”