Denville man gets suspended jail term for shooting ‘upskirt’ videos

Phillipe Leger, June 24, 2020. Screenshot by Kevin Coughlin
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A Denville man was sentenced Wednesday to a year in jail for secretly shooting videos up the skirts of women co-workers and shoppers last year.

Phillipe Leger’s sentence was suspended, however, because the Morris County Jail is not taking new prisoners during the pandemic, said Superior Court Judge Stephen Taylor, who also ordered three years’ probation, along with sex offender therapy and mental health treatment.

Superior Court Judge Stephen Taylor, June 24, 2020. Screenshot by Kevin Coughlin

Taylor set another hearing for Oct. 9, 2020, for a progress report on those treatments.

Leger pled guilty to third-degree charges of invasion of privacy, committed at two locations.

He was arrested last March after placing a camera in a women’s bathroom at St. Clare’s Behavioral Health in Boonton Township, where he worked as an armed, State Police-certified security guard.

In July, police caught him on Route 10 after he aimed a Go Pro shoe-camera up the skirts of shoppers at the Wegmans supermarket in Hanover.

One of Leger’s victim’s, identified as J.Y., asked the judge not to show any leniency. Leger had betrayed the trust of St. Clare’s staffers, she said, making them feel safe working night shifts.

“All that went away in a literal flash,” she testified, via Zoom. Now, she considers herself a prisoner, wondering how many times her privacy was compromised, and whether Leger shared the images he captured with others with “like-minded perversions.”

“The only place I feel safe is at home,” J.Y. said, explaining that her one solace was stopping the crime.

Choking up on camera, Leger, 34, apologized to the victims, their families, his family and the community.

“I know that my actions were unthinkable, disgusting,” he said. “I never meant to hurt anybody. I have issues, I have a problem. I’m trying to deal with those issues… I know my actions have consequences. Whatever you decide, Judge, I’m ready to take responsibility for my actions.”

Defense attorney Thomas Blauvelt said Leger was sexually abused as a child, and struggled with substance abuse. The lawyer asked the judge to give Leger credit for six-and-a-half months he spent in rehab at the Market Street Mission in Morristown.

But Morris County Assistant Prosecutor Gloria Rispoli said Leger tried to destroy evidence. His repeated, premeditated offenses should not be blamed on substance abuse or his childhood trauma, she said, noting that many abuse victims never become abusers.

Rispoli argued for the year-long sentence that Leger agreed to in his plea deal. He could have faced up to five years in jail and $15,000 in fines for each count.

Taylor agreed with the prosecutor, acknowledging a potential link between childhood abuse and drugs while expressing doubts that they drove his misconduct.

“There is some underlying pathology that needs to be addressed,” Taylor said.

“I don’t think you’re a bad person,”  the judge told Leger. “I think you made terrible mistakes here.”

Leger also must surrender his security officer license and have no contact with his victims, under terms imposed by Taylor.

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