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Peeping Tom given 3 months in prison

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HILO » A Hilo man who was sentenced Tuesday to three months in jail for spying on women changing and showering at a hostel has been unfairly portrayed as a pervert, his public defender said.

"He’s an unsophisticated, not-well-conversant person in the English language," Deputy Public Defender Belinda Castillo Hall said at Paul Waathmad’s sentencing. She said he accepted a deal to plead no contest to two counts of second-degree violation of privacy because he feared deportation to Yap, in the Federated States of Micronesia. "Mr. Waathmad is not a pervert, and judge, you can take that to the bank."

The prosecution disagreed, saying he peered into a window at Hilo Tropical Gardens Hostel in 2011 as a 27-year-old woman was changing her clothes. During another incident a week later, prosecutors said, he pulled back a curtain as a 57-year-old woman was showering.

Waathmad was "caught up in a maelstrom of hysteria," his attorney said. "He doesn’t want to jeopardize his prospect of remaining here in Hawaii, because he’s grateful for the opportunity that he’s been presented and provided. And he doesn’t want to jeopardize those opportunities for himself and for his family. … He wants to raise his daughter in this community."

Hostel owner Trish Owens said the incidents forced her to hire a night watchman and install cameras. She can’t sleep and walks around checking doors and windows, she said.

"And I don’t want him to forget what he’s done because I know I’ll never forget it," she said.

Waathmad, 31, apologized in court through a Yapese interpreter, the Hilo Tribune-Herald reported Wednesday.

"I didn’t understand the things that happened," he said. "I didn’t understand the rules and the laws of the state. Whatever punishment I’m given, I will deal with it."

The judge also sentenced him to a year of probation and 100 hours of community service.

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