by: Greg Suskin Updated:
YORK COUNTY, S.C. - A Clover man will avoid prison after admitting he used his cellphone to take a picture under a woman's dress at a Walmart store last summer.
Michael Cornett, 38, a married father of two, called the action "the dumbest thing he ever did."
On Thursday, through his lawyer, Cornett called it a "spur of the moment" decision to lift up a woman's skirt at Walmart and take a picture up her dress.
The incident happened on July 13 at the Walmart Supercenter on Highway 274 in Lake Wylie.
At the time York County sheriff's deputies released surveillance video, when they were still searching for Cornett.
On the tape a man can be seen entering the store and later running out after a the 43-year-old victim said she felt her dress drop down like it had been lifted, then turned and saw a man behind her.
She said he was holding a cellphone in his hand as if he was trying to conceal it.
She screamed, "Stop him," but he was able to run out and leave in a white SUV.
Cornett turned himself in to face charges about two months later, after the surveillance video ran on local news stations and helped to identify him.
He claims that immediately after taking the picture he deleted it without ever looking at it and destroyed the phone.
His lawyer, Phil Smith, said Cornett was sorry for what he did. "You can just look at him and see that he's ashamed of what happened," Smith said.
The prosecutor read a letter from the victim, who was not in court.
"Her main concern is protecting other people," said Assistant Solicitor Erin Joyner. "She hopes this deters him from doing something like this in the future and she hopes that he understands that future penalties will be much more severe."
Cornett has no criminal record, and that's why prosecutors agreed to allow him to plead to a lesser charge of assault and battery second degree instead of voyeurism, which would've landed him on the sex offender registry.
Cornett could have been sentenced to a maximum of three years in prison, but was given a recommended sentence of three years probation.
He must also receive mental health counseling and stay away from the victim.
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