ANN ARBOR – The man arrested for planting cameras in the bathrooms of seven local businesses and one park is free on bond.
A $100,000 surety bond was posted for Erric Morton on Friday and he was released. It wasn’t immediately clear whether he personally came up with the funds or if someone posted bond on his behalf, said Ann Arbor police.
As a repeat offender who had just completed parole for similar crimes dating back to 2015, there are concerns he could continue victimizing unsuspecting individuals until his next court date.
“We’re obviously concerned as a police department that it will continue and we want to prevent further victimization,” said Ann Arbor Police Lt. Bonnie Theil. “Unfortunately, a tether wasn’t issued in this case.”
Theil said Morton’s bond conditions are not to use computers or computer equipment and not to violate any laws. He is also forbidden from entering Briarwood Mall, she said.
Morton, 35, was arraigned on Sept. 7 on 12 felony charges, including capturing an image of an unclothed person, possession of child sexually abusive material and using a computer to commit a crime.
The Michigan State Police cybercrimes unit is helping AAPD with digital forensics in the investigation, analyzing hundreds of videos captured in public restrooms between Jan. 27 and July 22.
Morton planted cameras at the following locations:
- Altar’d State
- Bath and Body Works
- Hampton Inn and Wyndham Garden
- Vertex Coffee (S University)
- Starbucks (Plymouth Road)
- Sweetwater Coffee (Plymouth Road)
- Gallup Park
Theil said the secret cameras Morton used came in several forms, including cameras disguised as USB outlets and, in at least one instance, a pen camera clipped underneath a sink.
“He was not putting them in stalls,” said Theil. “He was putting them in restrooms that were open and family-style. And he would go back later and retrieve them.”
Some videos he captured included children, and police said Morton distributed the content online.
“We see it as tremendously heinous and just a horrible violation and we want to get him off the streets,” said Theil. “Unfortunately, we see a lot of recidivism in sexual deviance crimes.”
AAPD has created a reporting site for individuals who believe they may have been filmed by Morton. The department is also actively working to contact individuals they identify in the footage.
As for best practices when using public restrooms, Theil urges individuals to be vigilant at all times and to report anything strange.
“Be aware of your surroundings and look around,” she said. “If you see anything that looks out of place, alert the management immediately so they can retrieve it and have a look at it. And call the police.”