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Police reviewing if man's action violated privacy in public space

Footage of an Oshawa woman confronting a man who she claims was taking photos of women’s backsides without their knowledge, is going viral.

Stephanie Cottrell claims the man was inside the Oshawa Centre on filming the women as they shopped around on Feb. 14th, when confronted, she says the man denied it.

“I just though ‘who are you, you don’t get to violate women like this,'” she said. “I’m speaking up because it’s not right to violate somebody like this, male or female.”

Cottrell was with a girlfriend when she says she noticed the man holding the phone in an awkward angle and she was able to get a clear view of what he was capturing. That’s when she said her friend approached the women and asked them if they knew the man who was following them.

“My girlfriend was so brave and she ran back to tell the girls, she asked them point blank do you know him because he’s recording you,” Cottrell said. “They didn’t know who he was, they then confronted him. As far as I understand he said no and turned around.”

Cottrell said the women then confronted him and that’s when he began walking out of the shopping centre. The footage shows the man speeding away through the parking lot, not saying a word. She uploaded the video, along with a caption, on Facebook later that night. It has been shared more than 6,000 times.

On Friday, Durham Regional Police sent out a release advising the public of an investigation at the Oshawa Centre, where a man was secretly videotaping several woman who were shopping on Feb. 14th.

“The male erased the videos after being confronted and then fled out of the mall to a vehicle in the parking lot,” the release read. “At least one female followed him and took photographs in an effort to identify him.”

Police have not confirmed to CityNews if the two incidents are related, and were not available for comment this weekend.

Earlier this month, Canada’s top court found a London-based high-school teacher guilty of voyeurism and secretly recording female students’ faces and chests while they were in common areas of the school and without their knowledge. Durham Police cited the Supreme Court ruling in their most recent release.

“Investigators are also reviewing the Feb. 14, 2019 decision by the Supreme Court to determine if criminal charges are now applicable in incidents like these.”

This isn’t first the time the police force is investigating a report like this at the Oshawa Centre. This past September investigators say a male reported being secretly filmed while in the washroom. One month earlier, a 16 year old male said a camera was held over his bathroom stall. Police released a photo of a male suspect they believed was behind both incidents.

CityNews reached out to the Oshawa Centre to ask if it’s aware of the incident and any others at the mall. The general manager of the mall said that safety and security of customers is of the ‘utmost importance’.

“Our security team will monitor closely and intervene if necessary,” Chris Keillor said. “We encourage our guests to immediately report suspicious behaviours to our security team who works closely with Durham Regional Police Services on these matters.”

Durham Police also add that the security services at the Oshawa Centre are working alongside investigators.