Alleged Planet Fitness peeping Tom arrested while on probation for sex crimes

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Norfolk resident James Paul Eddy, III, was arrested on March 23, 2017, for spying on women as they tanned at Planet Fitness, located on East Little Creek Road. (Adrienne Mayfield/Southside Daily)
James Paul Eddy, III, was arrested on March 23, 2017, for spying on women as they tanned at Planet Fitness, located on East Little Creek Road. (Adrienne Mayfield/Southside Daily)

NORFOLK — A Norfolk man has been arrested for spying on unknowing tanning bed users at a local gym, police said.

James Paul Eddy, III, of the 7800 block of Tarpon Place, was arrested on March 23 by Norfolk police after admitting that he had been peering into tanning booths at Planet Fitness — less than a mile away from his home. Eddy has been charged with two counts of peeping into an occupied dwelling.

James Paul Eddy, III, of the 7800 block or Tarpon Place. Police said he admitted to spying on and videotaping up to 20 women while tanning at a local Planet Fitness. (Courtesy of Norfolk Police)
James Paul Eddy, III, of the 7800 block or Tarpon Place. Police said he admitted to spying on and videotaping up to 20 women while tanning at a local Planet Fitness. (Courtesy of Norfolk Police)

On Jan. 11, a gym member, who wants to be identified as Lanie, alerted police after seeing what she described as two fingers pushed through a ceiling tile above the stand-up tanning bed she had just occupied. Lanie said she was getting dressed when she saw the hand moving above her.

“I was only wearing underwear at the time,” Lanie told Southside Daily in January. “I had just stepped out of the tanning bed nearly nude and was putting my clothes back on when I heard a sound above me.”

Lanie said as she was putting her clothes on and calling out for gym staff, Eddy approached her to ask if she needed help. Lanie said she did not realize Eddy was the alleged voyeur until she saw his arrest photograph.

After calling police, Lanie said she watched Eddy leave the gym, only to return two hours later as she was waiting for police to respond.

“We were waiting right by the front desk,” Lanie said. “The staff asked him what he was doing back. He told them he was there to work his upper body.”

When gym staff responded and looked for the man, Lanie said they found similar holes in each tanning room. An incident report said responding officers also observed the same holes in the ceiling tiles.

“The safety of our members is paramount at Planet Fitness, and we take these matters very seriously,” said Becky Zirlen, public relations manager for the gym. “We quickly and fully cooperated with police in this matter and are pleased that an arrest has been made in this case.” 

A troubling past

This isn’t the first time Eddy has been charged with such a crime, according to court documents obtained from the U.S. District Court.

In October 2010, a Chesapeake woman filed a complaint with police after she saw someone holding a video camera over the wall and filming her at Sundays Blue Box tanning resort. Eddy was arrested and charged with two counts of peeping into a dwelling through a peephole and several counts of filming a non-consenting nude person.

According to court documents, police seized computers, digital cameras and memory cards owned by Eddy and found footage of 14 different women at the tanning salon. Police said the videos were taken between Sept. 1 and Oct. 4, 2010.

Court documents show that while searching for the tanning salon footage, police also found more than 600 images of child pornography. The images, police said, were likely produced in Eastern Europe and depicted girls between the ages of 6 and 15.

Eddy was then charged by the Eastern District of Virginia’s district court with felony possession of child pornography. On June 9, 2011, Eddy was found guilty of the charge and sentenced to 36 months in prison, with five years of supervision upon his release. Eddy was also required to complete registration on the state’s sex offender registry.

Eddy was released from prison on Oct. 27, 2013, and first registered as a sex offender four days later.

As part of his supervision agreement, monitoring software was installed on all computers owned by Eddy and he would complete a therapeutic program. Between March 2014 and November 2016, Eddy would submit to supervision late a total of 13 times.

‘How many victims are there?’

Court documents show that Norfolk police submitted evidence to the district court on Jan. 24, that showed Eddy had committed the crimes at Planet Fitness, located at 4245 E. Little Creek Road, earlier in the month.

On Jan. 30, a Norfolk police officer confronted Eddy at a probation visit. Eddy admitted to gaining access to spaces above the ceiling to spy on women in the tanning rooms at the gym estimating he had done so as many as 15 times, according to court documents.

During a polygraph exam on Feb. 14, Eddy again admitted to spying on women between December 2016 and January 2017. He also told police that he videotaped up to 20 different women while they were tanning, but deleted the videos and disposed of the video camera.

“He’s obviously a predator,” Lanie said. “He won’t stop this. How many victims are there?”

Eddy was scheduled to appear before the U.S. District court on March 23, the day he was arrested by Norfolk police, but that hearing was continued.

Eddy is now scheduled to appear before the federal district court on April 17. He will also appear in a Norfolk District Court on April 20.

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