Police: house cleaner hid phone in bathroom, recorded women

Emanuiel Cota, of Washougal, charged with four counts of first-degree voyeurism

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A Washougal police vehicle flashes its emergency lights in 2016. (Post-Record files)

A Washougal man is accused of first-degree voyeurism after allegedly placing a hidden cell phone camera inside a home he was hired to clean.

According to police reports, on April 13, Washougal police responded to a “suspicious circumstance” call at a Washougal home on “L” Street, where the caller said they had found a cell phone “wedged underneath their bathroom cupboard.”

“The cell phone was positioned so the camera was facing toward the shower,” the police report noted. “The phone did not belong to them and was hooked up to their wireless internet.”

The resident of the “L” Street home told officers she had recently hired house cleaners from Chosen Bright Cleaning. Officers contacted the company’s owner, Viktoriia Cota, and discovered that the phone belonged to Viktoriia Cota’s husband and cleaning service employee, Emanuiel Cota.

According to the police report, “officers asked for permission to search Emanuiel Cota’s phone because they suspected it could have been used to record the shower and toilet area of the bathroom.”

Police said Emanuiel Cota, 34, “showed officers a few photos on his phone, but refused to allow officers to search it completely.”

On April 17, Washougal police officer Trevon Southern obtained a search warrant for Emanuiel Cota’s phone to search for voyeuristic material.

The Vancouver Police Department’s Digital Evidence and Cybercrime Unit analyzed the phone for evidence and found that it contained more than 400 one-minute long videos of the bathroom, recorded on April 11, according to the police report.

“Most of these videos are of an empty bathroom,” police stated in the report. “However, there are three videos (of peole) shown using the bathroom in various states of disrobing, two videos of using the bathroom, one video of entering the bathroom to grab something, and two videos of someone’s ankles as they walked around the bathroom. Both intimate areas are visible to the camera during the videos of them using the toilet.”

Officers said they found several videos of Emanuiel Cota recording the interior of the home. In one video, he allegedly walked past a mirror, holding the cell phone while it was recording.

The police report stated that officers also found 64 videos Emanuiel Cota had taken inside another bathroom, taken between April 2022 and August 2022.

“The videos show two adult females, one older and one younger, using the restroom and showering,” the police report stated. “The videos show both females fully nude many times as they are showering, changing clothes, etc. It is clear neither (know) they are being recorded while in the bathroom. These constitute an additional 64 counts of voyeurism in the first degree.”

According to the police report, Emanuiel Cota’s phone history showed that he visited voyeuristic pornographic websites and “seemed particularly interested” in videos of women showering. The phone also contained many “voyeuristic screenshots of women showering which appear to have been downloaded for a pornographic voyeur website.”

According to the police report, Emanuiel Cota’s phone history also showed he had purchased different types of “hidden spy” cameras from Amazon.

“Emanuiel (Cota) also had videos on his phone where he is recording a female’s legs and clothed genital area underneath a kitchen table,” Claudson stated in the report. “He also has several recordings of people shown through their windows at night while they are doing dishes, putting kids to bed, etc. There is a video where Emanuiel (Cota) is recording a young woman through the crack in a door while she is kneeling on her bed. Based on the videos of their respective bathrooms, I believe there is probable cause for 72 counts of voyeurism in the first degree on Emanuiel Cota.”

On May 9, Washougal police served a search warrant at the Cota house, looking for Emanuiel Cota — who was not present — and additional items. According to the Washougal Police Department, Emanuiel Cota later turned himself in to Washougal police and was arrested May 13.

Emanuiel Cota made his first appearance in Clark County Superior Court on May 14, and has been charged with four charges of first-degree voyeurism. Clark County Superior Court Judge David Gregersen set bail at $10,000. Emanuiel Cota will be arraigned on Tuesday, May 28.

Clark County Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Erik Podhora said Emanuiel Cota’s charges are Class C felonies, which carry penalties of five years in prison and/or fines of up to $10,000.

“If convicted, this offense is a sex offense and does require registration,” Podhora added.