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Published February 22, 2012, 10:21 PM

Dickinson State peeping incident has local students on alert

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Startled college students are stepping up their security measures after a registered sex offender is caught peeping into windows. It's not the usual case we hear about. A man is accused of peeking into windows of a college residence hall.

By: Travis Skonseng, WDAY

Startled college students are stepping up their security measures after a registered sex offender is caught peeping into windows. It's not the usual case we hear about. A man is accused of peeking into windows of a college residence hall.

The sex offender was arrested for looking into a woman's dorm, like this one, but what makes this crime unique. The fact, the offender is accused of using a pair of these to peek at students.

Meghann Kuhlman – NDSU Freshman: “That's really creepy.”

Kasey Chock – NDSU Freshman: “It's really disturbing.”

On the NDSU college campus, these freshmen are learning the unexpected - just who may be lurking outside their windows.

Meghann Kuhlman: “I wouldn't expect that to happen to me where I was living.”

The safety scare comes as 50 year-old Allen Kerns is arrested at Dickinson State. The moderate risk sex offender is charged with surreptitious intrusion. Police say he peeped into dorm windows using binoculars.

Meghann Kuhlman: “I can't believe he got onto a college campus and was actually able to look into girl's dorms.”

Kasey Chock: “My roommate and I like to keep our windows open.”

Kasey Chock is not alone. We found about 1/3 of windows in Burgum Hall, one of three women-only residence halls, open. The blinds were either closed partially or not at all, allowing anyone to see inside.

Lt. Greg Stone – NDSU Campus Police: “You'd be naïve to think that it doesn't occur here at all.”

Lieutenant Greg Stone says calls for such crimes are not common. They are often only reported once a month.

Lt. Greg Stone: “It probably happens a lot more than it's reported because it's probably not detected a lot.”

Police take precautions to stop peepers. They patrol campus all hours of the day.

Sgt. Julie Hinkel - NDSU Campus Police: “We look for what's out of place.”

In many cases students report someone suspicious. But for cautious college girls, this unsettling crime is scaring them into action before that call can be made.

Kasey Chock: “I'll definitely take more safety precautions. Definitely shut our blinds more often.”

Meghann Kuhlman: “I'll probably close my blinds more often. Like probably in the later evening before I go to bed instead as I go to bed.”

That is exactly what students are now being told to do. The most similar case here at NDSU involved a man recording a student in a bathroom with a cell phone camera.

County prosecutors don't deal with many cases of surreptitious intrusion. North Dakota law has two sections.

Under one, it's a misdemeanor to invade someone's privacy. The other section makes it illegal to peep to satisfy sexual desires. The suspect faces a felony if it's a 2nd offense of if they are a registered sex offender.

Birch Burdick – Cass County State’s Attorney: “You don't too often hear about people at least I have not heard often about people using binoculars or telescopes to look into other people's windows and perhaps that's because it's a little hard to find them because they can do it from a distance.”

Lawmakers adjusted the law last year. Now it's illegal to use devices like cell phones to record or see people in such cases.

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