An appellate court earlier this month upheld a trial court’s decision to certify a class action lawsuit against a fitness gym and a former employees convicted last year on video voyeurism charges.
The case involves Anytime Fitness and former assistant manager Terry Telschow, who was arrested by Baton Rouge police in April 2010 and booked on four counts of video voyeurism. Telschow was accused of using a small, pen-like camera to film at least four women while they were in the shower room at the company’s Government Street facility in Baton Rouge.
The plaintiff, identified in the suit as Jane Doe, was contacted in April 2010 by Baton Rouge police and asked to identify pictures of herself in various stages of undress, according to a ruling from the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal, based in Lake Charles.
The ruling says Telschow admitted to placing the camera in the ladies locker room on 10 to 15 occasions between Nov. 1, 2009, and April 5, 2010.
Telschow was sentenced July 13, 2011, to serve two years with all but nine months suspended on each of the four counts, all of which were set to run concurrently, or at the same time. He was also sentenced to serve five years of supervised probation upon his release from jail, according to the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court’s Office.
The plaintiff’s attorney, Timmy James Fontenot, said Thursday that Telschow admitted during deposition testimony that there were approximately 15 to 20 other women who had been videotaped but whom he could not identify.
The appellate court’s ruling states the plaintiff submitted a list of about 250 to 300 women who went into Anytime Fitness during that time period, suggesting that any of the women who entered the shower area could have been exposed to Telschow’s camera.
Fontenot said the basis for the class-action certification for the 250 to 300 women is that there is no way to identify the women or which of them would be damaged if those photographs are ever leaked publicly.
“Thus each woman potentially could have suffered damages due to the fear of images surfacing depicting them in various states of undress,” the court wrote, adding that since Anytime Fitness is a nationwide business that allows its members to use any location, “there is potential for aggrieved parties to be located not only in Louisiana, but other states as well.”
The trial court defined eligible plaintiffs as all females who entered the women’s restroom/locker room/changing room at 200 Government St. from Nov. 1, 2009, through April 5, 2010.
The suit names Telschow, Southern Gyms, which does business as Anytime Fitness, and the company’s insurance company, Lexington Insurance Company, as defendants.
Attorney Douglas Michael Chapoton, who represents Anytime Fitness, could not be reached for comment at his office Thursday.
The suit was filed in Evangeline Parish, where the victim resided, but will now be transferred to East Baton Rouge Parish following a recent ruling by the state Supreme Court, Fontenot said.
The attorney said police have located three of the four women identified during the investigation. One is represented in the lawsuit. One or two other women have filed individual lawsuits against the company, Fontenot said.
A trial date has not yet been set in the lawsuit.