Fairfax County Police have opened an investigation into allegations that a Red Robin employee filmed a 15-year-old boy inside the restaurant’s bathroom.
This is pretty gross. The alleged incident took place at the Red Robin restaurant in Fair Lakes on December 26, 2017. The 15-year-old boy was using the urinal when he noticed a man standing over him. In his hand was a cell phone, which was being held up and filming. After confronting the voyeur, the young boy realized he was being filmed by a Red Robin restaurant employee. He immediately ran out of the bathroom and told his mother, who in turn notified restaurant staff.
After leaving the restaurant, the victim’s family called Fairfax County Police, which almost immediately sent a squad car over to the restaurant. The responding officers arrived at the Red Robin at the Fair Lakes Shopping Center to attempt to identify the offending employees. However, the restaurant staff would not cooperate with the investigation or release any employee details to the officers. Unable to get the restaurant’s voluntary cooperation, the case was then handed over to detectives in the Child Exploitation Unit, who wrote and executed a search warrant at the restaurant the next day.
Their investigation discovered that the offender was a 17-year-old boy from the Herndon area. Since both the victim and the offender are underage, Fairfax County Police detectives are not releasing either of their names to the media. Still, investigators are charging the offender with the same crime they would have filed against an adult: unlawful filming of a minor. The investigation also revealed that the 17-year-old had a small amount of marijuana on his person, leading the detectives to also file marijuana possession charges as well.
The case serves as a reminder that sexual crimes committed by minors, especially those involving filming or photographs, are typically charged as if they were committed by adults. While a motive for this crime has not yet been released, even things seen by teens to be pranks can result in serious criminal charges in today’s day and age.
Even consensual text or photo messages (sexting) between underaged children in romantic relationships can be prosecuted under the same statutes designed to stop adult child predators. This has led many to call for many of Virginia’s child predator laws to be adjusted when both the victim and perpetrator are underage. A Federal Appeals Court panel recently ruled against the Manassas Police Department after a case involving consensual “sexting” between underage lovers ultimately led police detectives to seek a warrant to collect nude photographs of a young boy (to compare to the sexting photographs they already had in evidence. The three-judge panel ruled that it was blatantly unconstitutional for the Manassas PD to violate the suspect’s rights in this way. You can read more about that crazy case here.
At this point, detectives do not believe there were any other witnesses to the alleged crime, but they are encouraging members of the public to reach out to the Major Crimes Bureau if they have any information about other voyeuristic crimes that may have occurred in the Red Robin bathroom. If you or anyone you know believes they might have been filmed in this restaurant’s bathroom, please do not hesitate to call 703-246-7800.
You can also anonymously report similar crimes by calling 1-866-411-TIPS or texting “TIP187” plus the message to CRIMES (274637). Tips to these hotlines are anonymous, and any tip that leads to an arrest will be eligible for a reward of between $100 and $1,000.