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Judge rejects plea deal calling for 10 days jail in Durango voyeur case

Wade Bigall accused of placing hidden camera in bathroom

A District Court judge on Thursday rejected a plea deal that would have sentenced a Durango business owner to 10 days in jail for putting a hidden video camera in a bathroom and capturing images of four people in various states of undress.

District Judge Todd Norvell said 10 days doesn’t send a strong enough message and is insufficient compared with the harm Wade Allen Bigall caused his victims.

Norvell said 30 to 60 days seems more appropriate.

Bigall can either withdraw his guilty plea and set the case for trial or he can accept a new plea deal with more jail time.

He is scheduled to give his answer at 2 p.m. June 3 in District Court in Durango.

Wade Allen Bigall is accused of hiding a video camera in a bathroom at his business, Element Window + Door, at 360 South Camino del Rio, Suite 200. (Durango Herald file)

Bigall, 60, is accused of hiding a video camera in a unisex bathroom at his business, Element Window + Door, which sells windows, doors and hardware, at 360 South Camino del Rio, Suite 200, in south Durango.

A forensic examination of a computer found still photographs and short videos clips of people in the bathroom, including three women and a man, according to the Durango Police Department.

The recordings occurred in 2020 and 2021.

Bigall pleaded guilty Jan. 28 to four counts of invasion of privacy for sexual gratification, all misdemeanors, in a plea agreement with the 6th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. The plea agreement called for 10 days jail and up to five years on probation. Bigall also would have had to register as a sex offender and complete recommended treatment.

Deputy District Attorney Vance Davis had little to say about the case or the plea agreement leading up to sentencing. He said the victims supported the plea agreement, which Norvell questioned based on some of their victim-impact statements submitted to the court.

The victims and their supporters filled a row of seats Thursday in the courtroom gallery. One woman began to sob after Judge Norvell said 10 days in jail was not an adequate penalty for the crime.

Bigall’s defense lawyer, Ryan Brungard, compared Bigall’s case to one of addiction.

He said Bigall had a “flirtatious affair” with an employee and became addicted to the infatuation, seeking greater highs and benefits as time went on. The attraction eventually led him to place a camera in the bathroom.

Brungard noted that Bigall pleaded guilty to four counts of invasion of privacy for sexual gratification, even though the “sexual gratification” part applied to only one of the victims.

The images were not shared or hosted on a third-party site, he said.

Bigall has no previous criminal history and was recommended for a “minimal level” of supervision, based on an evaluation, Brungard said.

The case has already proven to be costly: Bigall’s business has suffered financially, his family members have suffered emotionally, and the victims are suing Bigall for unspecified damages, Brungard said.

Bigall is already involved with treatment, and has taken responsibility for his actions, Brungard said.

“Good people make mistakes,” he said.

In a brief statement to the court, Bigall apologized to the victims and said the “obsession or whatever you want to call it” led him to do what he did. He said he is a good person who made a bad mistake.

“I just want to extend my deep regrets for my actions,” he said through tears.

shane@durangoherald.com