FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — While visiting a shopping mall in Virginia, an Alabama woman realized she was being filmed by a cross-dressing man who was attempting to slip a video camera under the bathroom stall she was occupying.
InsideNoVa.com, the web hub for four northern Virginia newspapers, explains:
A Fredericksburg man was arrested Monday at Potomac Mills Mall after, police say, he dressed in women’s clothes and attempted to film a woman through a bathroom stall – the third such incident since May.
The victim in the latest case, a 35-year-old Alabama woman, told police she was using the restroom around 3:10 p.m. when she saw a bag “protruding from underneath a neighboring stall,” said Prince William police spokesman Nathaniel Probus.
The victim told police that when she tried to confront the suspect, a man dressed in women’s clothing exited the stall and went into another stall next to another woman, Probus said.
The victim alerted the woman in the stall and contacted Potomac Mills security officers, who detained the man until police arrived.
Richard Rodriguez, 30, of Old Greenwich Drive in Fredericksburg, was charged with three counts of unlawful filming of a non-consenting person and three counts of peeping, Probus said. He is being held without bond at the Prince William-Manassas regional jail.
The incident has once again come to the forefront in the midst of a national debate about whether individuals should be allowed to use the restroom of their choice, if they do not “identify” with their sex.
North Carolina and Mississippi recently passed laws that require individuals to use the restroom that corresponds with their sex at birth as opposed to their gender identity. The laws have drawn the ire of the LGBTQ community, with many activists claiming that it violates their civil rights.
Target, the national retail chain, also made headlines last week when it announced its stores will “welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.”
In a press release emphasizing the corporation’s commitment to “inclusivity,” a target spokesperson said, “we welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.”
Opponents of such policies have warned that incidents like the one that took place in the Potomac Mills Mall will likely occur more often if gender neutral public bathrooms continue to spread. Proponents of gender neutral bathrooms dismiss such concerns.