Yearlong investigation after Mall of America discovery results in 42-year-old Elk River man being summoned

by Jim Boyle

Editor

A nearly yearlong investigation of an Elk River man caught with a hidden camera in a Mall of America fitting room has resulted in a felony charge and evidence that he did this at stores, swimming pools and at one high school throughout the Twin Cities area, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced on Sept. 3.

Trevor Nielson, 42, was charged with interference with privacy of a minor who he was more than 36 months older than. The complaint was issued as a summons and no first court appearance has been set, according to a news release issued last week from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.

Elk River Police are also investigating Nielson, but on a separate matter. They have also determined that video taken near Elk River High School was innappropriate but not criminal. More on that later.

According to the criminal complaint, the manager of a Forever 21 store in the Mall of America called Bloomington Police on Sept. 28 to report that a man had been in one of the dressing rooms for an unusually long time. She told police she thought he was the same man who had done the same thing two months earlier and after he left, they discovered a video camera hidden in one of the fitting rooms.

When Nielson finally stepped out from the changing room, police stopped him and searched him. They found his cell phone, a roll of double-sided black tape and strips of the backing from the tape that had been cut to the same length, the complaint states.

Store employees quickly located a camera hidden in the fitting room adjacent to the one where Nielson had been sitting for almost an hour. The same black tape, cut to the same length as the discarded backing was holding the camera to the wall, according to the complaint.

Nielson admitted he hid the camera in the fitting room and that he had done so other times. He also told investigators that he had secretly recorded people many times in many locations, the complaint states. Just before police arrived at the Forever 21 store, he was watching the video feed on his cell phone from the adjacent fitting room.

Police used a search warrant to confiscate Nielson’s electronic devices and it produced an enormous amount of information. There were a large number of nude and semi-nude women in changing rooms, many of them likely under the age of 18, according to the complaint.

Officers also discovered videos from a camera that had been attached to Nielson’s shoe or lower pant leg. He would stick his foot under the barrier between changing rooms and capture videos of the women within the adjacent room, the complaint states. In one video, Nielson accidentally captured his face in the mirror.

Officers also recovered secretly recorded videos of students at the Elk River High School as well as videos of young, teenage girls at swimming pools, parks, and other areas, according to the complaint.

Elk River Police have looked into these videos and have concluded they were not taken inside Elk River High School, but rather at a school-sanctioned event that happened outside of the high school, according to Elk River Police Captain Bob Kluntz. The police captain also noted that while inappropriate, these particular videos were not of a criminal nature.

Kluntz did say, however, the Elk River Police Department has a separate and active investigation into Nielson, and they hope to bring charges of their own in a Sherburne County court in the near future.

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