Updated 12 pm, Wednesday
Tisbury Police went to the Green Room on Main Street, Vineyard Haven, Saturday afternoon after a female customer reported that a man filmed her with a cell phone while she was changing in a downstairs dressing room.
Following an investigation by Tisbury Police Officer Michael Maliff that involved viewing store surveillance tapes, reviewing a credit card purchase by the suspect, contacting the Steamship Authority, and posting an image of the suspect on the department’s Facebook page, later that same day police contacted Benjamin Clark, 43, of Yarmouth, Maine, who was visiting Edgartown with his wife and three girls for the holiday weekend, and asked him to come to the police station for questioning.
Tisbury Detective Kindia Roman told The Times that Mr. Clark denied filming the woman in the dressing room, and insisted he was pointing at some shoes he intended to purchase. Based on evidence provided by the store security system, which showed Mr. Clark kneeling down twice and holding his phone under the curtain pointed upwards, according to court documents, police arrested Mr. Clark on a charge of unlawful sexual surveillance.
Mr. Clark, who lists his occupation as a wealth advisor, was booked at the Dukes County Jail and released on bail later that day. He was arraigned Tuesday in Edgartown District Court and released on $500 bail, and ordered to have no contact with the victim and stay away from the Green Room.
Police have applied for a search warrant to examine his phone.
Elaine Barse, owner of the Green Room, said police reacted quickly, professionally and with discretion on a busy day when the store was filled with customers. “It was an all-around upsetting situation for everybody — from the victim to the staff, to this guy’s family,” Ms. Barse told The Times in a phone conversation Monday.
Ms. Barse commended the young woman for coming forward and cooperating fully with police to find the suspect: “She could have just said, No, I don’t want to deal with this, and she was very strong and really held it together.”
Ms. Barse said the incident was disturbing on many different levels, but that everybody involved “really worked well together.” She emphasized people need to react quickly in similar situations. Had it not been for the victim coming forward and the staff contacting police right away, the situation might have turned out differently, she said. “Don’t think that it’s nothing,” she said.