Female Firefighter in Oklahoma Wins Settlement in Privacy Complaint

March 10, 2009

A female firefighter and a Sand Springs, Okla., cafe owner have reached a $40,000 settlement of an invasion of privacy complaint.

Norita Bridges, who is a firefighter with the Tulsa Fire Department, was awarded civil damages Feb. 19 in Tulsa County District Court, records show.

According to police records, Bridges, 39, was secretly videotaped April 19, 2007, while using the restroom at Old Town Cafe in Sand Springs. Her attorney, Richard Badillo, said his client was humiliated by the incident, but she was seeking justice rather than a big payday.

“All my client ever wanted was for this guy to get arrested so that he could not do this again,” Badillo said. “It took a lot of courage for her to do what she did by going to the police.”

The suspect, Marcos Santos, is an illegal immigrant who fled his job and apparently the Tulsa area after the video camera was discovered, assistant Sand Springs Police Chief Mike Carter said. Santos is still at-large on felony peeping-tom complaints linked to the bathroom video of Bridges, Carter said.

“When this occurred we blitzed the media with his photograph and we did not get one lead, which is odd,” Carter said. “He may have been new to the area and fled after the video was turned in.”

Cafe owner Abdul Chouban, declined comment.

Carter said Sand Springs police sought help from immigration officials, but they could not positively identify Santos since his employer did not appear to have sufficient employment records for him.

Chouban’s attorney, Mark Smiling, said, “There was trial testimony that stated that he (Santos) presented a green card, driver’s license and Social Security number to his employer.”

Bridges discovered the hidden video camera because she noticed a hanging plant with a hole in its basket, Carter said.

Before entering the restroom, Bridges reportedly found the bathroom door locked initially, then Santos came out.

Authorities believe he had adjusted the plant and the hidden camera, Carter said.

“While using the restroom, she noticed the flower basket moving slightly,” Carter said. “She noticed what she thought was a camera lens through a hole in the basket.”

Bridges took the camera to Chouban and said the police should be called, but Chouban said he would handle the situation, police records state.

Bridges left the cafe and took the camera to the police department and filed a complaint, records show.

Information from: Tulsa World, www.tulsaworld.com

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