Man first to be charged in SA under new invasive photography law

Juan Matos-Cartagena allegedly hid pen camera in women's restroom

SAN ANTONIO – A 59-year-old man is the first in San Antonio to be arrested under a new invasive visual photography law adopted last year by the Texas Legislature.

Juan Matos-Cartagena, who is free on $10,000 bond after being arrested Monday, is accused of hiding a pen camera in a potted plant to spy on female co-workers using the restroom at the Brookdale Patriot Heights Senior Living facility on Fawn Meadow.

Click here to read a statement from the facility.

San Antonio police said the images also showed him allegedly setting up the camera. They said one of the victims saw the camera and alerted police March 14.

A spokeswoman for District Attorney Nico LaHood said the Public Integrity Unit has seen several similar cases filed from other communities in Bexar County since the new law was enacted.

Given the wide use of camera phones and other small cameras, Assistant District Attorney Patrick Ballantyne said, “This type of crime is becoming increasingly prevalent, and we need better tools to prosecute them.”

Ballantyne said convictions were made under the previous law until the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals declared it unconstitutional in 2014.

Democratic state Sen. Jose Menendez, who represents District 26, said the court found the previous improper photography law was too broadly written.

He said it also was based on whether the accused had “the intent to arouse or gratify sexual desires.”

Menendez said the court asked, “How do you prove that?”

He said he began working with district attorneys and defense attorneys throughout the state to replace the law that was thrown out.

He said the question was raised, “Why don’t we rewrite this because we have to have something on the books that protects people’s privacy?”

Menendez said the law includes changing rooms, bathrooms and bedrooms.

“If you haven’t consented and you have an expectation of privacy, then that person has broken the law,” Menendez said.

“A message needs to be sent (that) you can’t take a person’s dignity, their individual dignity and their privacy,” Menendez said. “This is not only wrong, it’s illegal, and they’re going to pay a price.”

The new law is a state felony with a maximum sentence of two years in jail.