Bathroom photographer gets one-year sentence
By Sheila Gardner
MINDEN – District Judge Dave Gamble sentenced a 33-year-old South Lake Tahoe man to a year in jail Tuesday for using a cell phone to photograph two boys in a casino bathroom.
“If you take pictures from a bathroom stall, you’re going to go to jail in Douglas County. That’s the end of the line,” Gamble told Jason Kyle Helton.
Helton pleaded guilty to unlawful contact with a minor, a gross misdemeanor.
He was eligible for probation, but Gamble rejected his lawyer’s request for a suspended sentence.
Originally Helton had been charged with a felony in connection with the June 16, 2005, incident that would have required lifetime supervision and registration as a sex offender.
The incident occurred in a men’s bathroom near the Wallace Theaters in the Horizon Casino Resort.
Helton said he was in a stall next to the urinals, slipped the phone under the divider and began videotaping the boys who were using the urinal.
At his arraignment in September, Helton told Gamble he wasn’t a pedophile and that he didn’t realize he was photographing children until the boy grabbed his brother and they ran out of the bathroom.
According to the police report, the boys told their mother, who contacted casino security. They stopped Helton for questioning, but he fled the casino and left the area on a stand-up scooter with a bright yellow engine.
He was arrested at the end of July after a story appeared in the Tahoe Daily Tribune.
The victims were 11 and 14.
In recommending probation, lawyer Tod Young asked Gamble to consider whether any harm was done to the boys. “They weren’t touched. He never had any direct contact with them,” Young said. “When they recall this event, I think they’ll say, ‘When we were kids, there was some weirdo in the bathroom who stuck a phone camera under the wall and took our picture.’ “
Gamble said it was “specious” to assume that the children weren’t traumatized by what happened.
The judge questioned Helton about items that were recovered in a search of his residence including two photo collages that showed elementary school students.
Young pointed out the children in the photo were clothed and were not participating in any pornographic acts.
Helton said he didn’t know who the children were in the photo or how it came to be found in a nightstand by his bed.
“I came here to face the wreckage of my past life,” Helton said.
He said he was grateful for his arrest because it led to changes in his life.
He spent four months in a residential treatment program for drugs and alcohol and said he was surrounded by friends who were sober and supported his efforts to stay off methamphetamine and alcohol.
“I am passionately pursuing a lifetime of recovery,” he said.
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