Originally created 09/29/05

Man denies peeping into dressing rooms



ATHENS, Ga. - A Statham man has pleaded not guilty to charges that he drilled holes in the walls of two department stores' changing rooms in order to peep on fellow customers as they changed clothes.

Walter Marcus Edge, 49, was arrested Aug. 2 and later indicted on three counts of peeping Tom and three counts of criminal trespass. He is accused of spying in the dressing rooms of Target and Old Navy, both on Atlanta Highway in Athens.

Target employees first called police in February, according to Athens-Clarke police reports.

An employee said a man in his 40s had been coming into the store every two weeks for the past few months, returning to the changing room three or four times and spending 30 to 45 minutes in the room each time.

Workers later discovered 3/8-inch holes drilled in the partition walls of the changing rooms and suspected the man made the holes, the employee told police.

Five weeks later, an Old Navy employee called police with a similar report.

Then, in June, another Target employee called police, saying a man was in the dressing room and drilling holes in the wall, according to a separate police report.

A police officer knocked on the dressing room door, according to the officer's report, and told the man to get dressed and come out.

He fumbled inside the stall for several moments, according to the officer, before a plastic, putty-covered tube jutted out of the stall and nearly struck the officer.

Employees banned Mr. Edge for five years, according to police, but when the officer asked him to explain the tube, Mr. Edge asked for a lawyer and was allowed to leave the store.

No other stores have reported the peeping problem, said Athens-Clarke police detective Ben Dickerson.

Mr. Edge was arrested in August and released on $9,000 bond with the condition that he stay away from Target and Old Navy stores.