- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 21, 2009

MORGANTOWN, W.VA. (AP) - A veteran FBI security guard accused of spying on teenage girls as they tried on prom dresses at a charity event in a West Virginia mall is innocent and mortified by the charges, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Prosecutors allege Gary Sutton Jr., 40, and another FBI security guard used a security camera to watch girls changing in temporary dressing rooms, zooming in on them for at least 90 minutes.

Sutton’s attorney, Garth Beck, said his client did not see any of the girls nude.

“He’s a Christian. He’s a father. He’s a husband. He’s appalled at these charges _ mortified, actually _ that anybody could believe he could do this,” Beck said. “He expects to be fully acquitted.”

Sutton and a fellow FBI security guard Charles Brian Hommema, 35, have been charged with misdemeanor conspiracy and criminal invasion of privacy. Conviction on each charge could carry up to a year in jail, plus fines.

Sutton, of New Milton, is a 12-year employee with a spotless record, Beck said. He is free on bond and on paid leave.

Hommema, of Buckhannon, was to be arraigned Tuesday. His attorney, Stephen Jory, did not immediately return a telephone message.

The charges stem from a Cinderella Project fashion show and sale April 4 at a mall in Fairmont in north-central West Virginia. The event drew hundreds of girls from 10 high schools in five counties and the teenagers bought donated prom gowns for as little as $5.

A criminal complaint claims the guards who provide security for an FBI office at the mall focused a security camera on a makeshift, open-topped changing area in a hallway. The complaint said they zoomed in and recorded girls in various stages of undress for at least 90 minutes.

Beck said the girls might have been visible, but “my client’s position is they did not see any person in a state of nudity.”

The cameras belong to the FBI and are used for security of an office that has been located in the Middletown Mall since 1993, mall manager Betty Schmidt said. The mall does not own security cameras, Schmidt said.

Sutton and Hommema work at several FBI facilities, Beck said, including the Fairmont office and the Criminal Justice Information Services complex in nearby Clarksburg, where their tasks include checking credentials and patrolling the perimeter.

An FBI spokesman has declined to answer questions about arrests, except to say that the Office of Inspector General in Washington is investigating.

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