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Peeping Tom gets 5-year-sentence; judge doesn't like unsupervised release

POSTED: February 24, 2009 11:32 p.m.
SARA GUEVARA /The Times

Public Defender Larry Duttweiler, right, helps straighten the tie of defendant Terry Grant, 41, Tuesday inside the Hall County Courthouse. Grant is on trial in a felony Peeping Tom case that involves the alleged secret videotaping of women at the East Hall Library, peering into a woman's home and other lewd acts.

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In eight years, Terry Grant progressed from videotaping women in public places to making harassing phone calls to exposing himself to repeatedly peering into the windows of a woman’s house at night.

On Tuesday, after Grant was found guilty of felony Peeping Tom, a judge said he wasn’t satisfied with the maximum five-year prison sentence state law allowed.

"The court is convinced you do have a sexual deviancy and will continue to suffer from sexual deviancy," Hall County Superior Court Judge C. Andrew Fuller told Grant. The judge noted that once the five-year sentence is completed, Grant will not have to meet any ongoing conditions that a longer sentence would require.

"That terrifies the court, quite candidly," Fuller said.

Grant, 41, was convicted by a jury of standing on the porch of a 75-year-old woman who did not know him, peering through her window and fondling himself. He was caught in February 2008 by two Hall County Sheriff’s investigators who staked out the home off Atlanta Highway after it was suspected someone was trespassing.

The victim told her son she heard scratching noises at the window for several nights prior to Grant’s arrest. When she dusted a portion of the porch with flour, she found footprints the next day, prompting her son to call authorities.

Investigators later found footprints outside the house leading to the woman’s bathroom window.

Grant had several other run-ins with the law, including a May 2000 arrest after he was caught videotaping women in a K-mart parking lot while fondling himself in his car. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor indecent exposure in that case.

Excerpts from a videotape seized by investigators in the 2000 case was shown to jurors Tuesday. Shaky video shot inside the East Hall branch of the Hall County Library System shows a woman with her back turned to the camera, apparently unaware she is being filmed. Another clip shows a woman washing her car with a child. The video appears to have been shot from inside a house. In another clip that appears to be shot from the same location, Grant focused the camera on a window of a neighbor’s trailer at night.

An East Hall library manager testified Grant was an almost daily patron at the branch for about two years and usually carried a large duffel bag with him. He was eventually banned from the library for fondling himself under tables.

In 2003, Grant began making harassing phone calls to the library, sometimes as many as 10 a day, according to court testimony. The calls included what sounded like pornographic movies playing in the background, one witness testified Tuesday.

In June 2005, Grant was arrested for fondling himself inside the Books-A-Million book store in Lakeshore Mall. He pleaded no contest to indecent exposure in January 2006.

Assistant District Attorney Lindsay Burton told the jury of eight men and four women in her closing argument that Grant’s behavior had escalated to the point where he was becoming bold enough to go up to a stranger’s porch. The victim’s house is near the mobile home park where Grant lived.

"This is a serious case," Burton said. "This is a scary case. You need to look at Mr. Grant and say ‘enough is enough,’ and the way that you do that is by finding him guilty."

The jury took about an hour to find Grant guilty of peeping tom and criminal trespass.

Under Georgia law, Grant does not have to register as sex offender for Peeping Tom, according to prosecutors. Misdemeanor indecent exposure also does not require sex offender registration, although Grant was ordered to undergo mental evaluation and counseling as a condition of his probation.

Grant wrote a letter to the Hall County District Attorney’s Office in September in which he asked the case to be dropped, claiming he did not have a problem.

On Tuesday, Grant addressed the court prior to being sentenced.

"That was then, and people can change," Grant said. "I’m willing to change my life. I’m not out to try to get anybody or hurt anybody. I don’t have a history of assaults or anything like that."

The victim, now 76, told the judge that the incident changed her life.

"It’s made me afraid to go outside at night at all," she said. "I just feel afraid."



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