Video voyeurism case before Mississippi Supreme Court

AP News
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Posted: Jun 22, 2015 4:04 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A former Mississippi minister secretly videotaped women taking showers at his home and later transferred the video to a computer in violation of the law, prosecutors argued Monday before the Mississippi Supreme Court.

But an attorney for Samuel Allen Nuckolls told the court that the state never proved Nuckolls did the transfer and or when it took place.

Nuckolls was charged in 2011 with making secret videos of women taking showers at his Olive Branch home between 2007 and 2009.

Nuckolls argues that the two-year statute of limitations had expired by the time he was charged.

Prosecutors acknowledge the timeline, but they say Nuckolls' transfer of the videos to the computer in 2011 was "well within any statute of limitations."

Nuckolls, now 36, was convicted in 2012 in a bench trial. He is serving a 10-year sentence and was ordered to pay more than $80,000 in fines and restitution.

Nuckolls was arrested in 2011 while staying in a private home in Gosnell, Arkansas, during a local church revival where he was preaching. His hostess discovered a hidden camera set up in a bathroom as she was getting ready to take a shower, according to court documents.

Police said Nuckolls used a spy camera hidden in a pen that also contained a flash drive. Court records show Nuckolls admitted the camera was his and volunteered that he had done similar videotaping of women at his Mississippi home.

He was arrested with a computer he bought months earlier. The computer contained the videos shot at his Olive Branch home.

Special Assistant Attorney General Alicia Ainsworth said the trial judge made a "reasonable inference" that the transferring was done in Olive Branch in violation of the law that makes it a crime to reproduce such videos.

"The judge was not manifestly wrong in believing it occurred in DeSoto County," Ainsworth said.

Defense attorney Ronald Michael said there no proof of when the videos were transferred. The only proof, Michael said, was that the videos were on a computer Nuckolls had.

"I absolutely believe the judge was wrong in his interpretation of the statute. There was never any proof provided us on where, when and how the transfer occurred. They only had that it was on his computer," Michael said.

Authorities said Nuckolls knew his victims from his various preaching appearances across the country and at summer camps.

One his victims testified, according to court records, that she was taped while changing clothes for a wedding that Nuckolls was to officiate at his home. Another testified she was videotaped while she and her husband were staying at Nuckolls' home for a counseling retreat.

Nuckolls was a pastor for LifeWay Christian Resources, a Nashville, Tennessee, organization that runs the popular Centrifuge youth camps affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, according to LifeWay's website.

LifeWay's website said Nuckolls is no longer a part of its programs. The statement said investigations have not turned up any evidence that Nuckolls taped people at LifeWay events, where he was a camp pastor from 2003 to 2006 and a contract pastor from 2007 to 2011.