News, Police/Fire

Man arrested for taking upskirt photos at MarketStreet Mall

LYNNFIELD  — A Stoneham man, who police say admitted he took upskirt photos of young women at MarketStreet, was arraigned Monday in Peabody District Court.

Jeffrey Emil Evangelista, 53, was arrested Friday at Whole Foods Market after police received a call from mall security. Authorities had been on the lookout for the suspect since last month when parents reported separate incidents of a man taking pictures at The Paper Store of a 15-year-old customer and a 17-year-old employee. 

Evangelista pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 4 for a pretrial hearing, according to the Essex County District Attorney’s Office. He was released on $2,500 bail. The crime, secret sexual surveillance, is punishable by up to 2½ years in jail or a fine of up to $5,000.

In a 75-minute interview with Lynnfield Police detectives, Evangelista admitted he took pictures that day of at least one woman and had done it in the past, the police report said. 

The investigation started in June following the reports from The Paper Store. At the time, police obtained video footage from the retailer and spotted an unidentified man carrying a red and gray lunch bag with a shoulder strap.

“I observed him in the video moving the bag in odd ways and placing it on the floor where it would take intrusive photos up the skirt without permission or knowledge of at least two females,” the police report said. 

Police later interviewed the teens. One of them told police she saw a cell phone in his bag, that he acted “weird” and invaded her personal space. 

The other teenager told investigators he was “weird and timid” and said when he talked to her, the man got close.

On Friday afternoon, police went to Whole Foods following a report the man was in the produce section. Two officers approached the person they recognized from the video. They also spotted the cooler in his grocery cart that looked like the one from the video. 

Police told him they were investigating an incident at the mall. He identified himself as Evangelista and agreed to talk with police.

“While walking, Jeff took his cell phone out and had it in front of him … while looking at his cellphone, I saw small thumbnail pictures of bare legs. The phone was open to the deleted folder and it was apparent he was trying to delete photos from the phone … I reached in front of Jeff and took the phone … and advised him he was under arrest,” the police report said.  

Lynnfield investigators said a report of a similar incident occurred at The Paper Store in Stoneham last month. Stoneham police said witnesses described the suspect carrying a lunch bag which appeared to have a cellphone on it. 

In 2014, Massachusetts lawmakers made it illegal to secretly take upskirt photographs of women or children in public.

The measure was signed by former Gov. Deval Patrick one day after the state Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a man who took cellphone photos up the skirts of female passengers on the MBTA did not violate state law, because the women were clothed.

 

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