MOORHEAD - A former employee of Pancheros Mexican Grill is accused of secretly filming women and at least one girl in the Moorhead restaurant's bathroom.
Sam Thomas Hagen, 18, of Moorhead made his first appearance in Clay County District Court on Wednesday, May 24. He faces a felony charge of interfering with the privacy of a minor, as well as four misdemeanor counts of interfering with privacy.
On May 5, Moorhead police were sent to Pancheros, 803 Belsly Boulevard, after three girls told the restaurant manager that a cellphone was recording people in the women's bathroom, according to a criminal complaint.
One of the girls, who's 12 or 13, told a police officer she found the phone, which was taped to the underside of a sink and was aimed toward the toilets. The manager told police that when the phone was discovered, Hagen, who was working at the time, left the restaurant, the complaint said.
Police found Hagen at home, and he acknowledged taping the phone to the sink, the complaint said. He told police he "records videos in the bathrooms for his sexual pleasure," the complaint stated.
Hagen told police he did this before at a prior workplace and had been caught. He was fired in that case, but no police report was filed, according to the complaint, which did not name his previous employer.
Police searched Hagen's phone and found three videos that showed a total of four females using the Pancheros bathroom. The videos were from April 12, April 28 and May 5.
The May 5 video captured the girl who discovered the phone. Hagen said he did not intentionally film the girl, but acknowledged that the bathroom is used by all ages, the complaint stated.
Pancheros general manager Stuart Tovee said Hagen was fired right after the phone was found. "Nobody had any idea of what he was doing, including myself. Every member of the staff was oblivious to it," he said.
Tovee said he plans to start having other managers check the bathrooms for recording devices or anything else out of place. "That way we can prevent this from ever happening again," he said.
Hagen posted $750 bail to be released from the Clay County Jail on Wednesday. His public defender, Brian Toay, declined to comment.