Man accused of placing hidden camera in tanning bed room at Planet Fitness

Woman finds camera hidden in tanning room

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - According to a Hickory Police report, a secret recording device was found inside a tanning bed room at Planet Fitness gym in Viewmont.

The woman who filed the report, Holly Morrow, says she noticed a small device with a blinking blue light on the wall and a camera lens as she was entering the tanning bed inside the gym on 2nd Street.

“I’m trying to do the right thing and I’m terrified,” says Morrow. “I was raised that you don’t violate people like this and I just feel so violated.”

According to court documents, 50-year-old Darren Astles is being charged with peeping using photographic imaging device and possession of photographic image obtained from peeping after police concluded their investigation. Both charges are felonies and Astles is being held on a $12,000 bond.

Darren Astles
Darren Astles

“I like going to Planet Fitness,” Morrow told WBTV after the incident. “That’s my place - I’ve lost 111 pounds.”

Morrow told WBTV she went into tanning bed room number six and started to hang her things up. She noticed a black device plugged into the wall that at first she assumed was a phone charger. Then she looked closer and says she saw a light.

“Blinking a blue light then in the middle,” said Morrow describing the device. “I saw what looked like a camera.”

Morrow says she didn’t have her phone on her to call anyone so she took it to Planet Fitness staff members on duty.

Morrow says gym employees had the device while she went to collect her things, but when she went back she says employees told her somebody showed up saying it was their phone charger and left.

“I have worried all day about how to explain to my 11-year-old why somebody would want to stick something in the wall and spy on people getting dressed and undressed,” she said.

McCall Gosselin, Vice President of Public Relations and Communications for Planet Fitness, said the “privacy of our members is extremely important to us” in a statement to WBTV about the incident.

“I’m just trying not to cry because it’s just a lot,” said Morrow, visibly shaken. “I’m trying to be brave but really I’m terrified.”

Astles will make his first appearance in court on the two charges Wednesday.

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