A pastor from Indiana installed secret cameras in the women’s public restroom which captured women and little girls in their private time while using the facilities. The pastor of Sunrise Christian Reformed Church captured footage that he later downloaded and watched. Robert Lyzenga got away with his secret for over two years.
The 57-year-old pastor from Lafayette, Indiana abused his authority and now faces a concurrent prison sentence ranging from two to ten years for five counts of Class D felony voyeurism and five counts of Class C felonies for child exploitation leveled against him for recording 10 under aged unsuspecting victims. Lyzenga said he never intended to record children and knows he should have stopped watching but failed to do so.
Initially the pastor made up an excuse claiming he thought he would not recognize any of his intended victims but later confessed that he actually recognized many of them. Judge Randy Williams did not settle for any of his excuses and set his sentencing hearing for July 18.
In the pastor’s defense his attorney, Kent Moore, claimed Lyzenga never intended to record the children; although he never clarified what the pastor’s intentions were. The Judge said he had no sympathy for the pastor because even after he realized his cameras were capturing children he kept recording and watching these young girls aged five to sixteen.
Voyeurism, the sexual interest in or practice of spying on people, is another form of paraphilia. The term actually comes from the French voyeur, “one who looks.” It is a psychosexual disorder in which a person gains sexual pleasure and fulfillment from looking at genital organs and naked bodies. It can also involve the observation of sexual acts performed by others, but not in this particular case.
Lyzenga said although he went to a psychiatric hospital the day following his arrest, he has not undergone any treatment for a mental illness. He called his own actions “shameful.” Lyzenga made the camera look like an air freshener that he stuck to the door of the stall with Velcro.
The pastor installed the first camera during the 2011 Thanksgiving season. He said he did not put the second one up until early 2012. Both cameras were aimed at two of the five toilets in the women’s restroom. This particular restroom is located right off the sanctuary area where Lyzenga held service.
This voyeur continued to lead service as pastor while continuously downloading footage. He was caught in April 2012, but said he reinstalled the cameras more times than he can remember.
An affidavit stated the secret was exposed when a woman who was using the restroom saw that an air freshener had fallen off the door. When the woman picked up the “air freshener” the back had come off and she noticed a camera inside. The woman searched other stalls and found the same in a neighboring stall. There was also an air freshener in another stall but it did not have a camera inside.
Once Tippecanoe County police detectives downloaded the memory cards from the cameras they found recordings of unsuspecting females using the facilities. Police easily determined the air fresheners were just decoys. They were plastic rectangular boxes which had computer printed “Glade Air-o-Matic” stickers on the outside.
Mark DeYoung, one of the church elders, said he was distraught, amazed, devastated, disappointed and confused by the allegations. He has known the pastor since 2002 and said Lyzenga had been a highly regarded, well liked and trusted man within the congregation.
The church which is located at 909 E. County Road South in Lafayette, Indiana has since replaced the former pastor. The welcome message on the website of Sunrise Christian Reform Church reads,
When you step through the doors at Sunrise Church, our sincere desire is that you will experience reverent worship, relevant Biblical instruction from God’s Word, and authentic relationships. We hope that you may find not only a church home, but a family where you can reach your full potential for Jesus Christ.
No one would ever have suspected to find a pastor who operated in the form a voyeur leading the service. The pastor installed secret cameras in the women’s public restroom that captured women and little girls using the facilities in what they thought was a private opportunity. Robert Lyzenga was arrested and charged; he will be sentenced on July 18.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)