A high councilor with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was removed from his position on the administration of several Salt Lake City congregations after he was accused of filming a woman in an H&M dressing room.
Steven Murdock, an affidavit alleges, presented himself as an employee and guided the young woman, Alondra Alcala, into a room to try on clothes at the Opry Mills Mall in Nashville on Tuesday. When Alcala began changing, she told officers that she saw a black object at the corner of her stall—then realized it was a phone.
“I thought it was a joke,” Alcala told FOX 17. “I thought it was a prank, I thought somebody was just messing with me.”
When Alcala emerged, Murdock reportedly came out of the next stall and tried to delete the photos. When Alcala moved to call police, Murdock’s wife allegedly stepped in to try and settle the issue “peacefully” without alerting authorities, The Tennessean reported.
“I was kind of cornering him, kind of grabbing his arms, and I did watch him delete photos of me on his phone,” said Alcala. “Thankfully I was able to slap it out of his hand and take it and run out.”
Police arrested Murdock on a misdemeanor charge of unlawful photography, and he was later released from jail the following morning on a $1,000 bond, according to The Tennessean.
“Unfortunately, I felt disgusted with myself. I felt like what did I do wrong, what if I wouldn’t have done this, or wouldn’t have worn this,” Alcala said. “I did feel violated, I felt gross, why is this happening to me?”
Church spokesperson Eric Hawkins confirmed Monday to WKRN-TV that Murdock was a high councilor and former bishop with the church. Both are volunteer positions, said the spokesman.
“This type of behavior is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated from any church member,” Hawkins said. “When local leaders learned of the arrest and charges, he was immediately removed from all responsibilities.”
Murdock may also have his church privileges restricted or face a loss of membership, said Hawkins.
“It’s just disappointing to see that, especially someone in that position, isn’t meeting that same position themselves,” one parishioner told a local news station in Salt Lake City.
H&M’s headquarters said this week that the store is cooperating with local authorities in the investigation.
“The safety and well-being of our customers is our first priority,” said the statement.
Murdock is expected to appear in court on Sept. 6.
“It can happen to anyone,” Alcala told local reporters. “Anyone can be a victim of this: men, women, children, anybody. I would just say be alert, be aware of your surroundings, and don’t be afraid to speak up, because this sort of stuff is real.”
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