Former Kinesiology prof pleads guilty to voyeurism, sentenced to probation

Former UBC Kinesiology professor James Rupert was handed a suspended sentence and a criminal record on Feb. 4 after pleading guilty to voyeurism.

Rupert, who was charged with secretly observing and recording subjects of a study in June 2014, pled guilty to videotaping four women who were using a changing room for one of his studies between Jan. 14 and Apr. 16 2014. Two of the women were filmed while they were at least partially nude.

At an earlier hearing in a Richmond court, Rupert admitted to viewing the videos for purposes of arousal and masturbation, but said that the recordings were later deleted and not disseminated to other people.

In late March, a graduate student who was helping Rupert conduct the research noticed that he was nervous throughout the study, searched the storage room and found a tool box with holes in it labelled "old computer stuff." She notified one of the other faculty members, who later looked inside the box and found a camera before notifying the police on Apr. 14, 2014.

Rupert's defence lawyer, Irina Ceric, requested a conditional discharge, while Crown Counsel, Damienne Darby, argued for a suspended sentence with probation, which would result in a criminal record.

Since being charged, Rupert resigned from his tenured position as a Kinesiology professor at UBC and sought the services of a professional psychologist, who provided a statement that said Rupert demonstrated remorse for his behaviour and posed a low risk of reoffending.

Justice Kathryn Denhoff reviewed the facts presented at Rupert's earlier court hearings, saying that one of Rupert's victims was forced to undergo counselling to deal with the trauma that followed being taped, for which she paid $1,100 of her own money.

Denhoff also said that Rupert saved his victims from having to testify in court by pleading guilty and suffered the shame that comes with losing his job and being the subject of intense media coverage.

"I accept without hesitation that Dr. Rupert is truly remorseful and ashamed of his behaviour," said Denhoff.

Denhoff also said that while Rupert demonstrated the appropriate remorse for his actions, the seriousness of the offence warranted a sentence with a criminal record and requited to sending a message that recording was a breach of privacy.

"The breach of privacy in this case was serious, prolonged and involved several victims," said Denhoff after citing several cases involving similar offences.

At the end of the hearing, Denhoff sentenced Rupert to a suspended sentence with a 15-month probation that would result in a criminal record. As part of his probation conditions, Rupert needs to report to a probation officer over the course of the term, have no contact with his victims, stay away from UBC's campus, complete 80 hours of community service and pay restitution to the victim who underwent counselling services.