The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The employee, who worked for Transportation Services, was sentenced Friday
Some+international+students+at+Texas+A%26amp%3BM+have+been+struggling+to+pick+up+groceries+because+of+limited+transportation+options+from+campus+to+H-E-B+and+Walmart+on+Texas+Avenue.
Photo by Leah Kappayil

Former Texas A&M transportation services employee Peter Baty was sentenced to five years in state jail after pleading guilty to hiding a camera in a women’s restroom for five months. The camera was hidden in a charger in an employee-only restroom in the Transit Services building off campus. 

After Baty was seen entering the women’s restroom on a surveillance camera in 2019, other employees found a charger left under the sink, in direct view of the open, one-person restroom. They called the College Station Police Department after finding a camera hidden inside.

Police issued a search warrant for Baty’s house and have found more than 15,000 recordings, most featuring an empty restroom, since 2019. The camera recorded constantly in 10-minute increments for around five months. Over 100 people were seen on the tapes, but only 67 could be identified, including employees, student bus drivers and other students acquainted with bus drivers. 

Prosecutors charged Baty with five counts of improper photography or video in a bathroom or dressing room that year. After initially pleading not guilty and facing COVID-related delays, Baty pled guilty this year on April 18. 

Brian Baker, the Brazos County first assistant district attorney, prosecuted the case jointly with Assistant District Attorney Rachel Porter. He said they aimed for the maximum sentence of 10 years but are happy with the five years he was given — one year per charge stacked consecutively. 

“Stacking is unique,” Baker said. “It doesn’t happen very often, so we were very pleased that the judge did that. We would’ve liked all 10 [years], but we are extremely happy that he gave him state jail and not probation.”

Mugshot of Peter Baty, a former Texas A&M transportation employee who was sentenced to five years in state jail. (Photo by Brazos County Sheriff’s Office)

The June 21 sentencing hearing explained Baty’s character to Judge Kyle Hawthorne, who decided his sentence. Prosecutors had three people testify as a representative sample of the 67 known victims: a student employee, a regular employee and a member of the public affected by the recordings. The member of the public was a Blinn student visiting the Transit Services building to meet her boyfriend. 

“He caught her as she used the restroom while she was waiting for her boyfriend to finish his shift,” Baker said. 

A fourth person testified as the victim of an unsolved 2013 case. That year, a student returned home to find a box with printed explicit photos of her, taken from a hidden camera that saw into her room from a window. At the time, police couldn’t link the photos to a person, but evidence linking Baty was discovered during the 2019 search warrant. Because the statute of limitations had passed, prosecutors could not charge Baty for it. 

“We wanted the judge to understand what the crime was and the impact it had on the victims, and the defense wanted the judge to understand who Peter Baty was,” Baker said. “Their argument, for all accounts, was that he is a sad person and that this was just an abhorrent act [and] that he wasn’t sharing it with the general public. It was an argument of his characteristics versus our belief that the harm done required a sentence of prison.” 

Today, Baker said many of the victims experience PTSD-like symptoms when in public, especially in public restrooms and dressing rooms. Some can’t pull their blinds down in their home anymore.

“We’re hoping that the sentence deters others from ever thinking about doing something similar,” Baker said. “All of these victims talk about how life-altering it was to feel like there was somebody watching them in their most private moments, whether or not he was sharing those with other people.” 

Debbie Lollar, interim associate vice president of Transportation Services, sent an announcement to transportation services employees following the sentencing. 

“I wanted each of you to learn about this news from me,” the message reads. “I understand, especially for those victimized and who supported those who were, this may heighten your thoughts and emotions about what happened. I sincerely apologize for the distress and trauma imposed by this former employee on members of our work family. We hope today’s court action will provide a step toward healing for each of you.” 

Baty is currently in a Brazos County jail awaiting transfer to state jail. He has not appealed the sentence. 

“When we steal people’s senses of security, that can oftentimes be worse than a physical assault,” Baker said. “We are glad that the judge did what he did, and we hope that it will serve as a message to anyone that’s thinking about doing it that the price is too high.”

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About the Contributor
Nicholas Gutteridge
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor
Nicholas Gutteridge joined The Battalion in January 2023 as a news reporter before being promoted to news editor in August 2023. He interned at The Pentagon in Washington D.C. from January to May 2024 with the U.S. Air Force Office of Public Affairs before rejoining the newspaper. He will be the managing editor for the 2024-25 academic year.
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  • R

    RalphJun 25, 2024 at 3:23 pm

    I wish they would tackle the discrimination issues in the Grounds department as well I lost my job due to mental health issues and the impact of stress they caused against me with no one else speaking up now I’m jobless without pay because of poor decisions in letting others who do the crimes rise above others who want to work I think I should be interviewed!!!

    Reply
    • S

      Sarah EasonJun 26, 2024 at 8:31 am

      Ralph- same happened to me!!!!! I am currently fighting for my rights!

      Reply