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Dave Olson, Published May 30 2008

Janitor who placed camera in Concordia College women's locker room will face all seven counts he was charged with

MOORHEAD - A judge has ruled Steven Sopko must stand trial on all seven counts of interfering with privacy that Sopko was charged with after a camera was found in a women’s shower room at Concordia College.

Defense attorney Gregory Joseph had asked Clay County District Court Judge Galen Vaa to dismiss all but one of the charges, arguing they are based on a law that makes it illegal to place a camera where someone would have an expectation of privacy.

A crime is committed when such a device is planted; it doesn’t matter whether someone’s image is recorded or not, Joseph told Vaa at a hearing in early May.

However, Vaa has issued an order denying the request, stating in written findings that defense arguments don’t make sense.

“Limiting the reach of the statute to a single use or installation when there are several different victims would lead to an absurd result,” Vaa wrote.

Sopko was a custodian at Concordia College before his arrest Dec. 28.

Members of the Concordia women’s basketball team told police the day before that they were taking a shower after practice when one of them found a camera hidden in an air duct.

Findings of fact that accompany Vaa’s order contain details about the case, including the fact Sopko wrote a letter of apology to the basketball team after he was interviewed by police.

Several basketball players told police they initially became suspicious after noticing their shampoo had been moved.

The women said they believed Sopko wanted them to use particular showers and that he moved the items to make sure they did.

According to Vaa’s findings, the beginning of the tape shows Sopko adjusting the camera and turning on the water as if to wash away shoe prints.

The tape ran for about an hour and a half and captured images of seven women who are seen naked, according to Vaa’s findings.

The tape shows one player noticing the camera and telling others about it. There is screaming and another player opens the vent and takes the camera out.