Man took illicit videos and photos of women, including family members, for over 13 years

Wan Ting Koh
Spy cameras embedded in commonplace items found in Sim Lim Square. Yahoo News Singapore file photo.

SINGAPORE - For over 13 years, a man filmed women changing, showering and relieving themselves in the toilet using an assortment of spy cameras disguised as common household items. He also did it with his handphone.

Charis Ong Junen, 35, targetted victims in changing rooms at retail outlets, in his home toilet, when travelling on public transport and at a church toilet.

The married man even filmed a bride and her bridesmaids during a wedding party in a hotel room.

Over the course of his offences, he accumulated a total of more than 872 compromising videos and photographs of women dating back to January 2003.

Ong on Monday (17 February) pleaded guilty to four out of 13 counts of insulting the modesty of women, with the remaining charges to be taken into consideration for sentencing. His proceeded charges state that he insulted the modesty of women at least 306 times in 2011, at least 231 times in 2012 and at least 335 times in 2013.

While the victims cannot be named due to a gag order, there is no gag order on Ong’s identity.

The prosecution said it will be seeking three years’ jail for Ong, describing the case as “unprecedented”. Ong’s lawyer, T M Sinnadurai then asked for an adjournment to file written submissions for his client. Ong will return to court on 23 March for sentencing submissions to be heard.

Ong’s female colleague put an end to his 13-year offending streak

Ong’s string of offences finally came to an end when he was nearly caught red-handed by a female colleague he was filming.

On 13 April 2016, the 19-year-old woman received a dress as a birthday present from another colleague at the enrichment centre she had been volunteering at. She headed to a toilet to try on the dress and Ong followed her, intending to film her changing.

At about 2.30pm, he headed to the back of the female toilet and switched the video recording function of his phone on before raising his hand to the window. The victim spotted Ong’s mobile phone with the camera lens pointed at her. She attempted to snatch the phone away but he forcefully retracted his hand and managed to flee.

The woman saw and recognised Ong and informed her colleagues about the incident.

Meanwhile, Ong went to get a drink and decided to delete the video footage, as he had nearly been caught red-handed. He then returned to the centre, feigning ignorance of the earlier incident and lying that he had left the office to buy a drink with two other male colleagues.

The woman lodged a police report the next day. During investigations on 20 April, Ong lied that he was not the perpetrator.

CCTV footage retrieved from the office, along with interviews of Ong’s purported alibis however, revealed that he had lied about his whereabouts.

The investigation officer became suspicious when he saw that Ong’s Internet browsing history on his phone included searches on how to delete documents from the phone. The officer also noticed that the phone only had a handful of photographs, despite the multiple photo and video editing applications.

The police executed a surprise raid on Ong’s residence on 20 April 2016 and seized six cameras, five spy watches, two spy pens, three spy camera sticks, one spy clock, 13 external hard drives, four internal hard drives and his Apple iPhone 6s. The spy devices, which Ong positioned in toilets, had been purchased online or from Sim Lim Square.

A forensic examination of one of the hard drives revealed 821 obscene images and 692 compromising video films.

From January 2003 to the time he was arrested, Ong filmed unknown women at changing rooms in Cotton On clothing outlets, friends and family members who visited his home, female commuters and church attendees known to him. He also filmed a bride and her bridesmaids in an unknown hotel room in 2013.

Ong would save the video or image files which he deemed attractive to folders in his hard drives. Files of the same victim would be in a common folder named after their actual names or identities. Unknown women would be named after their physical looks or clothing. He also took screenshots of videos and saved them in sub-folders.

For each count of insulting a woman’s modesty, Ong can be jailed up to a year and fined.

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