By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
Rumors about a Peeping Tom had circulated among staff members at the North Boulder Recreation Center for years, and when a janitor was caught in the rafters above the locker rooms, employees thought the matter had finally come to a close. But no charges were filed, and the janitor returned to work following a brief suspension.
City officials tried to hush up the incident, according to employees at the rec center on North Broadway. And instead of applauding the efforts of cashier Caroline Schuler, who played a pivotal role in catching the janitor, Parks and Recreation managers are harassing her, say staff members. "They've made her life hell," says one former worker.
Schuler, cooperating with police, personally sprinkled purple "sneak-thief powder" in a crawl space above the ceiling of the locker rooms one day in December, and janitor Ed Godoy was spotted shortly afterward by police trying to wash the powder off his hands. Godoy claimed he was keeping an eye out for a suspected thief in the men's locker room, but he received a two-week suspension for his unauthorized presence in the rafters. Rec center officials have been careful not to accuse Godoy of being a Peeping Tom, and he has not been charged with any crime.
Late last week, however, after fielding a flurry of questions about the incident from reporters, city officials decided to transfer both Godoy and Schuler. "It was a mutual decision we made with the custodian," explains Chris Dropinsky, the city's director of parks and recreation. "When we sat down with him and discussed what the public perceptions were [regarding his presence at North Boulder], we thought this was best. We want our patrons to be comfortable." Dropinsky cites "heightened public interest" because of impending news coverage as a factor in the decision.
It hasn't been determined where Godoy will be working. Schuler is being transferred to the East Boulder rec center. That move, says Dropinsky, is "temporary" and "coincidental." Schuler says she thinks it's neither; she calls it further harassment.
The incident brought to light possibly two decades of voyeurism at the facility. One former janitor recalls that in the mid-1970s, it was common knowledge among custodians that anyone entering the ceiling could move tiles above the women's locker room and leer at patrons dressing and showering below. Some of his co-workers indulged in that opportunity, he says. And in the mid-1980s, a janitor was caught masturbating in the crawl space above the women's area. He resigned soon after.
In the most recent incident, Schuler was hailed as a hero by some of her co-workers but was reprimanded for discussing the episode and got poor marks from her boss in a job evaluation several weeks later. Now she's pursuing a grievance against the city for alleged harassment. "This whole thing is so morally wrong and so badly handled, and I'm going to fight it," Schuler says.
The janitor declines to talk about the incident. "The allegations will continue, no matter what I say," says the 48-year-old Godoy. "I do feel I've been treated unfairly by the people making accusations. I'd really rather not discuss it." (He also holds a full-time custodial job at the Williams Village dorm towers at the University of Colorado at Boulder. His boss, Ken Geary, says Godoy does a good job there.)
Schuler got actively involved in the episode after another employee noticed a hole about two and a half feet square high in the ceiling of the janitor's closet. The hole was easily reached with a ladder kept in the closet, which is adjacent to the locker rooms. "That got me thinking," says the employee, who declines to be identified by name.
Schuler, who had noticed what she terms odd disappearances of the janitor during his shift, took their suspicions to Linda Kotowski, director of the city's recreation division. Kotowski and Mike Patton, head of personnel for the city, inspected the closet and access hole and contacted Boulder police.
Early on the afternoon of December 15, Schuler says, a female detective arrived at the center with a jar of the anti-thief powder, a marker dye that can be used to detect intruders. The two entered the women's locker room and removed a ceiling panel above a row of lockers. When the detective was unable to climb up into the ceiling, Schuler hopped onto the lockers and spread the powder herself on the top of a common wall running between the locker rooms and around the entrance hole in the janitor's closet.
By seven that evening, Godoy was in police custody after being found at the sink in the men's locker room trying to wash the dye from his hands.
An inspection of the crawl space by police officer Tom Grange found that a number of ceiling tiles above the women's locker room had been moved to permit views of the area below. Another city employee who surveyed the rafter area says a plank had been positioned over the women's toilet and sink area. "You could lie up there all day on that," he says.
According to a police report, the janitor claimed that he was in the ceiling monitoring the movements of a possible thief in the men's locker room and that his behavior was "standard operating procedure" approved by rec center manager Al Quiller.