Watch CBS News

Records: Sunset Ridge School Bathroom Camera Suspect Was Caught Photographing Women In Movie Theater Restroom Nearly 10 Years Ago

NORTHBROOK, Ill. (CBS) -- A former school custodian who is now a fugitive has been sneaking into bathrooms and recording women and girls for years, records show.

David Garcia-Espinal is wanted in a warrant on charges that he placed cameras in a bathroom at the Sunset Ridge School in Northfield.

As CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reported Thursday night, Garcia-Espinal has a long and documented pattern of behavior – and he was even once banned from a mall.

And he has been getting away with it all for years.

On Wednesday, CBS 2's Chris Tye talked with a man whose daughter was captured on hidden camera at Sunset Ridge School.

"I was shown photos of my daughter sitting on the toilet," the parent, who did not want his identity used and whom we called "Kevin," told Tye.

Police told "Kevin" his daughter was not recorded in the staff bathroom sometimes used by students – which had been believed to be the only site where a cellphone camera was placed. "Kevin's" daughter was recorded in an upstairs girls' bathroom intended for students back in September, he said police told him.

"Our children were violated, and I'm disgusted by it," he said.

Police said Garcia-Espinal, who held two jobs at the school, was the one who placed the camera.

And the sad part? We learned on Thursday that Garcia-Espinal was caught taking pictures of women while they urinated all the way back on Dec. 26, 2010.

It happened at the AMC Movie Theatre in the Northbrook Court shopping mall. Police received a report of a man "standing on the toilet in the stall, leaning over the wall, and taking pictures of women in stalls with a digital camera."

Garcia-Espinal was by himself and had bought a ticket to see the movie "Yogi Bear."

He was wearing a grocery store employee uniform – the same uniform he had when police were called back to the movie theater months later for another call of a man sneaking into the women's bathroom.

This time, he was interviewed by police and was banned from the shopping center.

But even though the lead detective determined that Garcia was the culprit, both cases were "cleared exceptional" and closed without an arrest.

Garcia's mugshot did make an internal bulletin warning area police departments about his penchant for entering women's restrooms.

In 2012, he admitted to police that on at least two occasions he entered the women's bathroom at a movie theater to masturbate.

Court records showed Garcia-Espinal pleaded guilty to identity fraud in Glenview in 2012 and was sentenced to probation, and was also fined for violating his probation in 2013. When he was arrested for the movie theater incident, the officer found three different Social Security cards, three different permanent resident cards and two different resident alien cards.

Glenview Police tell CBS 2 that their records show they charged Garcia-Espinal with a misdemeanor for public indecency. However, that charge was never recommended for prosecution. Prosecutors pursued only the fraud charge to which Garcia-Espinal pleaded guilty.

But since he was never charged in connection with the women's restroom incidents, his lewd acts never showed up on a background check.

That was one more reason why he slipped through the cracks and got hired at a middle school where he is now accused in the bathroom camera incidents.

Garcia-Espinal had been at Sunset Ridge since 2015, holding two jobs at the school since 2016 through two different companies.

He was a cook through OrganicLife, and a custodian through Smith Maintenance Company in the evenings, the school district said in the Q&A communication to parents.

We wanted to know why Garcia was never charged in Northbrook. Police told Hickey there was no one on duty Thursday night authorized to answer her questions, and the lead detective on the case involving Garcia-Espinal has since retired.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.