BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A former WAFB employee who secretly recorded two female station employees using the restroom in 2017 was sentenced to four months in prison Tuesday. He was immediately handcuffed and led to prison.
Morgan McDermitt, 27, must also register as a sex offender for 15 years. His wife, upon hearing the sentence for the two counts of video voyeurism, ran from the courtroom sobbing. Before being sentenced, McDermitt made a brief statement to the judge about the victims in the case.
“I just know that I have wronged them and I definitely do not deserve their mercy,” he said. “Today is about them."
District Judge Beau Higginbotham initially sentenced McDermitt, 27, to four years in prison Tuesday but then suspended all but four months of the sentence. In July, Higginbotham refused to accept a proposed plea bargain in the case that would have only placed McDermitt on probation. In handing down his decision Tuesday, the judge said he had to choose whether the sentence best benefited McDermitt or the victims and society.
"There are a lot of sentences I could give you, but only one just sentence,” the judge said. “I think you ought to suffer because of your actions.”
McDermitt was a former employee who returned to the station on two occasions in late 2017 under the guise that he was visiting his former coworkers. It’s during those two visits that he placed his cell phone in a restroom and captured videos of the women. One of the women discovered the phone partially hidden under a jacket on the floor. McDermitt later admitted to multiple occasions of snapping photos of unnamed women in elevators and on escalators in various parts of the community.
The judge asked McDermitt, who sought sex addiction therapy after his arrest, why he did not seek help before he was caught. The judge added that parts of society have developed into a “shoot now and ask forgiveness later” mentality.
“We often don’t understand the consequences because no one’s feet are being held to the fire,” the judge said.
Higginbotham said he had received numerous letters from people asking that he not sentence McDermitt to prison. The letters, he said, all indicated that McDermitt had already suffered enough embarrassment and shame.
“Why isn’t this about the victims?” the judge asked as he held up the letters. “They don’t deserve the embarrassment and shame that came from your actions. They’re the ones now who have to wonder who’s seen the videos and who have to now look over their shoulders when they are going to the bathroom.”
In July, the two female employees of WAFB-TV gave emotional testimony in court during victim impact statements.
“Your actions turned my life upside down," one of the women said in July.
She then faced Morgan McDermitt and looked him in the face.
“I want you to see me. Look at me, not the body parts you so disgustingly filmed without my knowledge,” she added.
She described how she considered McDermitt to be like her “little brother” and said she could not believe how he had betrayed her trust.
“He is deranged," the second woman said. “He is a predator and should be sentenced as one.”
WAFB is not revealing the names of the two women since they are victims of a sex crime. They were identified in court only by their initials. McDermitt’s defense lawyer and the prosecutor in the case initially offered a plea deal in which McDermitt would receive a two-year suspended sentence, be placed on probation for three years, and be required to register as a sex offender for 15 years.
After his arrest, McDermitt stood before his church congregation and admitted to his sins and asked for forgiveness, his lawyer told the court. In addition to the four-month prison sentence handed down Tuesday, McDermitt was sentenced to three years of supervised probation after his release, ordered to serve 200 hours of community service, and ordered to continue sex offender therapy and treatment.