MANDAN, N.D. — A judge has sentenced a fired Mandan police officer to five years in prison for putting a camera in a bathroom vent to record a child taking showers.
Scott Michael Warzecha, 45, previously pleaded guilty to felony charges of using a minor in a sexual performance and surreptitious intrusion. He was sentenced by Morton County Judge Cynthia Feland on Monday, July 26
Warzecha admitted to putting a cellphone in a bathroom so he could record a child undressing and taking showers in October and November, according to court documents. The child found the phone and video.
“They feel very violated by what he did,” said Ladd Erickson, a McLean County State’s Attorney who is prosecuting the case on behalf of Morton County.
Erickson recommended Warzecha serve five years, noting that what he did created trust issues for the child. Erickson said he anticipated Warzecha would be paroled early.
Warzecha’s attorney, Justin Vinje, suggested the ex-officer be sentenced to two years in prison since he took responsibility early in the case.
“What he has done here is horrible, and he acknowledges that,” he said.
The defense attorney also noted any time Warzecha serves in prison could put him in danger since he is a former officer.
Erickson said he tried to find a recommendation that would show the public Warzecha is not getting a lesser sentence because he is a former officer. Warzecha, who served as a sheriff’s deputy in South Dakota before coming to the Mandan Police Department in 2014, was fired because of the charges.
The child’s mother said Warzecha put a lot of planning into setting up the camera. Warzecha had opportunities and resources to seek help for his problems, but he chose not to, the mother said.
“We have a bathroom that we are not comfortable using,” she said.
Warzecha apologized to the child and their family. He said he couldn’t say anything that would make up for what he did.
“What I did was not only wrong, it was reprehensible,” he said.
The child asked the judge to sentence Warzecha to as much prison time as possible and said family member's lives are better without him.
“In two years, my (child) is going to still be a minor,” the mother said. “Two years is not enough.”
Feland called Warzecha’s acts intrusive, but they are more serious since he was an officer, the judge said. As an officer, he is supposed to hold himself to a higher standard of conduct.
The child will have to live with what Warzecha did for life, Feland said.
“You live in a glass house, and this glass house has been shattered by your behavior,” the judge said.
Warzecha, who attended the hearing from West Fargo via Zoom, will have to report to the Burleigh County Jail by Friday, July 30. He also must register as a sex offender.