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Exclusive: Hidden bathroom camera found in Tampa VA

Hidden camera crimes have been on the rise in the Tampa Bay region. We examined how to spot cameras and protect your privacy.

Jenna Bourne (WTSP), Lauren Powell

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Published: 6:03 PM EST February 3, 2022
Updated: 6:03 PM EST February 3, 2022

This story is the latest installment in our YouTube series, "What's Brewing,” investigative reporter Jenna Bourne's series of deep dives. Click here to check out the series and subscribe to our YouTube channel: The Deeper Dive. 

Unsuspecting people are being secretly recorded during their most private moments. 10 Investigates has uncovered video voyeurism is on the rise across the Tampa Bay area.

We started looking into this issue when we uncovered a hidden camera investigation in Tampa that no media outlet has reported on before: A worker found a camera in a James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital employee bathroom, disguised as a phone charger, in October 2020.

10 Investigates’ Jenna Bourne found documentation of the hidden camera incident while looking through records of a whistleblower complaint against the Tampa VA for an unrelated issue.

When she started reaching out to employees who work in the unit of the VA where that whistleblower claimed the hidden camera was found, they all said the same thing: Reach out to the public affairs office, instead. 

A public records request revealed the Tampa VA sent an email to its staff days after Jenna started asking questions, telling them, “As a reminder, if a media representative reaches out to an employee, they are under no obligation to respond and should refer inquiries to the PAO [Public Affairs Office].”

Credit: 10 Tampa Bay
Tampa VA

A U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs spokesperson confirmed to 10 Investigates that an employee found the camera disguised as a phone charger in a co-ed staff restroom, and VA Police identified three people who’d been recorded on the memory card inside. 

“Based on preliminary VA police investigation there is no evidence anyone would have access to the images without the memory card. On October 16, 2020, three victims were identified and immediately notified of the incident. Facility leadership met with approximately 15 staff assigned to that unit later that same day,” wrote VA Public Affairs Specialist Gary Kunich in an emailed statement. 

Kunich said the VA Office of the Inspector General closed the case in April 2021 and the camera was returned to the Tampa VA for destruction. 

More than a year after the camera was found in the bathroom, neither the VA OIG or Tampa VA will come out and say no one was ever caught. But the U.S. Attorney’s Office confirmed to 10 Investigates it hasn’t charged anyone. 

Jenna requested an interview with Tampa VA Medical Center Executive Director David Dunning. 

“We will not be able to accommodate an interview at this time… While unfortunate, this incident does not represent a pattern. JAHVH Veteran patients and staff are protected on campus by the VA Police, a dedicated department of federal police officers who are here to ensure the safety of everyone at our facilities,” James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital Communications and Media Service Chief Kimberly wrote in an email. 

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