A University of Delaware graduate student is accused of hiding video cameras in restrooms, both on-campus and off, over a period of more than two years.
Doctoral student Javier Mendiola-Soto, 38, was arrested July 1 after a camera was found in a women’s restroom at the Delaware Biotechnology Institute, where he worked, University of Delaware Police said Friday in a news release.
A police search of his residence allegedly turned up about 1,500 video files dating back to May 2012. He was charged Thursday with an additional 20 counts of violation of privacy.
Mendiola-Soto, of Mexico, remains in custody at the Howard Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington. His visa has been revoked and he is ineligible to be released on bail, according to investigators.
Police said they have determined so far that recordings were made in one or more women’s restrooms in the Hugh Morris Library, the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Laboratory and Memorial Hall, as well as in a unisex, handicapped-accessible restroom in the Willard Hall Education Building.
Forensic analysis of the seized videos is still ongoing, according to officials.
“It is extremely disturbing that this crime was perpetrated against our community, invading the privacy of so many women on and around this campus,” University of Delaware President Patrick Harker said in a statement.
Investigators said they have identified 40 potential victims and are in the process of contacting them.
None of the videos appear to have been uploaded to the Internet or shared with other people, police said. The files are being stored in a secure location and will be destroyed after criminal proceedings are resolved.
The university is cooperating with the state Attorney General’s Office and conducting an investigation “with urgency and a deep respect for the privacy of the victims,” Harker said.
He said the school is ramping up security measures, including randomly timed restroom examinations by custodial staff and increased police patrols throughout campus buildings. School officials will also consult with an independent campus security and privacy expert to explore more possible precautions, Harker said.
University of Delaware Police have created a dedicated hotline, 302-831-4800, through which those who believe they may have been captured on the seized video can make arrangements with detectives to review the faces contained in the footage.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact University of Delaware Police at 302-831-2222.
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