Guilty plea to interfering with minor’s privacy

HIBBING — An Eveleth photographer pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of interference with privacy against a minor under 18 in District Court in Hibbing, his lawyer said.

Donald Peterson, now 56, owner of the Thomas Leonard Studio in Eveleth, was charged as the result of an investigation into an incident at his studio that occurred Aug. 31, 2012, attorney Bruce Williams said in an email.

Sentencing was set for 9 a.m.

Oct. 10 in District Court in Hibbing before Judge Mark Starr.

A second count, on the same charge, originally had been brought forward at the time of the incident. The primary victim, a minor, had arranged a graduation/senior photo session and had her boyfriend and younger sister accompany her. The second count had been dismissed by Judge Starr March 26 for lack of cause.

The maximum sentence for the one felony charge is two years. However, the plea agreement put on the record Thursday that: There be two years of probation, with the first year supervised and the second one unsupervised if recommended; there be no probationary jail time; a stay of imposition, if he completes the probation term, that would reduce the sentence to a misdemeanor; a fine of $1,000 plus costs; have an evaluation done by a licensed psychologist; and refund costs of the photos.

According to Williams, when the girl went into a changing room and had an expectation of privacy, Peterson “admitted he went into the back room and climbed a ladder and moved a piece of wood and watched her change.”

“He is remorseful. He did not take any photos of the girl while she was in the changing room,” Williams said of Peterson.

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