Transgender voyeur sentenced to prison

Smith


Where do transgender convicts end up being incarcerated?
The Idaho Department of Correction’s policy on housing transgender subjects, adopted in 2002, is to have staff escort the offender and transport them separately to avoid physical or sexual assault by other offenders. IDOC spokesman Jeff Ray said in an email that officials are reviewing the policy and may revise it in the near future.
In order for a transgender offender to be assigned to a facility that coincides with their gender identity, they are required to be evaluated for gender identity disorder. This is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder’s definition of a person who is dissatisfied with their own biological sex and wants to be considered a member of the opposite sex. The manual does not describe gender identity disorder as due to psychosis, “but it may accompany other mental disorders.”
The chief psychologist evaluates offenders and decides if they have gender identity disorder. The psychologist then deems the correct prison for them to be housed. For biological males identifying as female, they are housed at Pocatello Women’s Correctional Center after consultation with the warden.
The psychologist can review each offender and exercise the option to place the offender in a facility “consistent with the offender’s primary physical sexual characteristics,” the policy says.
The evaluation consists of a comprehensive history analysis, mental health evaluation, clinical overview and documentation of any prior claim by the offender of gender identity disorder diagnosis.
If the offender was receiving prior hormone treatment for gender identity disorder from a doctor, the Department of Correction will continue the treatment plan.
If an offender is diagnosed with gender identity disorder, the evaluation is then reviewed by two committees and a management plan is submitted to the IDOC director. The director holds final approval and can ask for additional findings or have the offender housed at a facility corresponding with their gender identity within four months of approval.

A transgender Ammon woman was sentenced Thursday to two to five years in prison for surreptitiously recording a young woman as she undressed in a Target dressing room.

Shauna Smith, 43, pleaded guilty Oct. 17 to felony video voyeurism by installing or permitting the use of an imaging device without mutual consent.

Smith was added to the sex offender registry.

District Judge Joel Tingey said he did not impose the maximum five-year incarceration period because a parole board should decide if Smith is amenable to treatment outside of prison.

Smith asked Tingey prior to being sentenced if she would be allowed 24 hours to order her affairs prior to being incarcerated. Tingey denied that request and remanded Smith to custody following the hearing.

Smith filmed the 18-year-old victim as she was trying on swimsuits July 11 at the Target store in Ammon. The victim’s mother confronted Smith after she was discovered filming the victim. Smith fled on foot, reportedly wearing a blonde wig and dress. Smith later was arrested after Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office deputies gathered surveillance video, interviewed witnesses and talked with Smith.

The case drew national media attention, due in large part because Target had recently allowed transgender customers to use the restroom or dressing room aligning with their gender identity.

The victim asked Tingey at the Thursday sentencing hearing to impose the the full prison term. She said since the incident she has suffered long-term “emotional mutilation,” and has sought counseling.

“It’s kind of a far-fetched cliché,” she said of the case. “I never thought this would happen. I always supported the transgender community, but I felt a little betrayed.”

The victim said she remains terrified of public restrooms and dressing rooms for fear that someone will invade her privacy again. She described how while rooming with several students she waited until the early morning hours to shower alone, and if someone entered the bathroom she could not leave the shower.

She said seeing the case make national headlines further embarrassed her and reading comments on the articles made her “stomach feel heavy,” and left her in “a permanent state of anxiety.”

“The comments about the transgender community were absolutely horrible,” she said.

John Dewey, Bonneville County chief deputy prosecutor, recommended a fixed five-year prison term. Dewey said Smith submitted to a psychosexual evaluation but declined to enter it into the court record. Dewey said the evaluation helps court officials understand if a defendant poses a risk to reoffend. Without that information, Dewey argued there was too much of a risk to allow Smith to be paroled.

Smith told investigators that she had filmed other victims in the past. Dewey said further charges are possible — several other videos were discovered on Smith’s phone — but Dewey wouldn’t comment further.

Smith’s attorney, John Thomas, recommended a one- to two-year prison term. Thomas said Smith was in the process of transitioning from male to female and had been on hormone treatment. Thomas said though Smith’s actions are not justifiable, filming the victim was an outlet for her being “conflicted on (her) own sexuality.”

“I think (Smith) has earned a trip to the penitentiary. This is not something we can just overlook,” Thomas said.

Smith apologized for the crime before being sentenced and said she is seeking counseling.

“I don’t feel that I’m a bad person,” Smith said. “I’m truly sorry I made these mistakes.”

Tingey said he and others questioned Target’s policy to allow transgender people to choose the bathroom or dressing room aligning with their gender identity, wondering if people would be victimized.

“You took advantage of that and victimized a young lady,” Tingey said.


Reporter Tom Holm can be reached at 542-6746