Peer review: Serial peeper goes to grand jury
The young woman was lying in her bed talking on her cellphone when she noticed a head outside her basement window. The head seemed to be sideways on the ground, looking in through a small opening at the bottom of the blinds. When she ran outside, no one was there.
On another occasion, the fourth-year UVA biology major testified during a September 1 preliminary hearing in Charlotteville General District Court, she saw a figure down on all fours outside the window of her John Street bedroom.
Her testimony and the fingerprints lifted from an air conditioning compressor outside her window on July 7 were enough to send James Gilbert Stearn, 49, the man whose frequent voyeuristic activities resulted in a law that made third-time peeping a felony, to the grand jury.
Stearn's peeping arrests date back to the 1990s, and UVA coeds have been a favorite target. He's racked up at least a dozen peeping charges, as well as indecent exposure and trespassing arrests.
In 2002, at the request of a local prosecutor and police officer who had been unable to deter Stearn with Class 1 misdemeanor convictions, Delegate Rob Bell carried a bill that made a third peeping charge a felony and requires registration as a sexual offender.
Stearn had already served 2 1/2 years in prison when he was arrested July 27, and he's been held without bond. If convicted again of the Class 6 felony, he faces up to five years.