USS Enterprise sailor pleads guilty to secretly filming boss, subordinates using restroom
NORFOLK — A watch commander assigned to the aircraft carrier Enterprise pleaded guilty Friday to secretly recording seven co-workers in a restroom, including his boss and at least two women he supervised.
As part of a plea deal, Petty Officer 3rd Class Ricardo Pilola will serve two years in confinement, be reduced in rank to a seaman recruit and dishonorably discharged from the Navy.
“I’m very, very sorry,” a tearful Pilola said during sentencing at Norfolk Naval Station. “My actions are inexcusable. I took advantage of your trust.”
The recordings happened aboard a barge serving as a workstation for sailors assigned to the Enterprise while the nuclear-powered aircraft undergoes defueling and inactivation in Newport News.
Pilola told military judge Capt. Charles Purnell that he placed a GoPro video camera in a vent above a toilet next to his office. He paired the camera with his cellphone to begin recording. Six women were recorded at least once, while one was recorded at least four times. Prosecutors said some of the recordings occurred when the women were giving urine samples, which Pilola would have known the schedules of.
The recordings happened between March 2013 and March 2014, when an investigation began after the memory card from the camera was left in a car that didn’t belong to Pilola. Pilola’s civilian defense attorney Eric Leckie said the videos were not distributed.
The Virginian-Pilot does not identify victims of sexual crimes. The women he recorded said they were shocked to learn Pilola was responsible.
It wasn’t uncommon for Pilola to adjust his work schedule so he could attend church on Wednesdays and Sundays. When he was at work, he would talk to his colleagues about his wife and the young son she was pregnant with at the time.
“I could not believe it, especially when I found out who it was,” said one of the victims Pilola supervised. “I thought I could trust him. He seemed like a good guy.”
The woman said she originally used a different restroom on the barge because the one next to their office was frequently unclean and smelled bad. After Pilola learned that, she said the restroom was cleaned up and had a strong scent of Pine Sol cleaner.
The woman said her sense of trust in others has been broken. She has left the Navy and said she no longer uses public restrooms.
Another victim who is still in the Navy said she feels like her co-workers treat her differently now.
“I feel like I can’t trust anybody I work with,” she said.
Pilola’s former supervisor said she defended him when she first learned about the accusations, thinking he couldn’t possibly be involved. She said she lost the respect of those who worked for her after word spread about what happened, and she has since been reassigned to another command. She said she’s no longer in leadership and has become withdrawn.
“I don’t have friends in the Navy. There’s no trust there,” she said.
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