YMCA employee accused of recording women in shower

Gurkaran Singh's mug shot. (Courtesy Kalamazoo County Jail)

PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) — A Portage YMCA member says an employee now facing criminal charges asked her for his cellphone back after she discovered it was recording her as she showered.

The employee, 21-year-old Gurkaran Singh, was arrested Friday on two counts of surveillance of an unclothed person and two counts of using a computer to commit a crime, according to the Portage Department of Public Safety.

On Aug. 18, Lisa Purdiman went to take a shower at the YMCA after her last swimming class of the summer.

Lisa Purdiman
Lisa Purdimam speaks to 24 Hour News 8’s Sarah Hurwitz on Dec. 20, 2016.

“I just saw something under the door and I thought, oh, maybe it was a shampoo bottle or something,” she told 24 Hour News 8 on Tuesday.

She finished her shower and then looked closer, at which point she realized something was wrong.

“I got out and put my glasses on and I saw there was a lens pointed towards me, and I was like, ‘Is this for real?'” she recalled.

She grabbed the object. It was a box of cleaning cloves containing a cellphone. A hole had been cut in the box for the lens.

Then she heard knocking on her shower stall.

“A man said, ‘Excuse me, could you please put that cellphone back under the door?’ And I was like, ‘Um, no. I’m not giving you back your cellphone,'” Purdiman said.

She screamed for help multiple times, but no one came into the locker room, so she waited in her shower stall until she thought the man had left. Then she went out to the desk to tell the staff what had happened.

A supervisor, Singh, stepped in to help.

“He’s like, ‘What’s going on?’ But he was acting funny,” Purdiman said.

She recognized his voice — it was the same person who had asked for the phone back.

One of the other supervisors who was helping Purdiman thought he recognized the phone as Sighn’s, so he texted Singh’s phone and the phone in the box lit up.

The phone, authorities later confirmed, was Singh’s.

Singh, who was the building supervisor and had worked there since 2014, was immediately fired.

The YMCA Portage branch, located at 2900 W. Centre Street, on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016.
The YMCA Portage branch, located at 2900 W. Centre Street, on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016.

“He was very popular with our members and with the staff,” said Steve Springsdorf, the president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo. “You think you can profile people. You can’t. You just don’t know.”

Springsdorf said Singh passed a background check, did not have a criminal record and was not on the sex offender registry. He said management never saw this coming.

“Unless you say something, you know, how are we going to know what’s happening? And this particular instance, the lady that was involved did do that and that’s how we were able to get on top of this situation,” Springsdorf said.

24 Hour News 8 went to Singh’s house Tuesday seeking coming, but someone turned off the lights and shut the garage door.

Police say there were four victims, two of whom are still unidentified. Purdiman said she spoke out in the hopes that it would help identify those two victims.

If you were at the Portage YMCA between Aug. 10 and Aug. 18 and showered in the “All Access Locker Room,” police are asking you to call the Portage Department of Public Safety 269.329.4567 and speak to Det. Dereck Hess.

The YMCA sent 24 Hour News 8 this copy of a message that was sent to all Great Kalamazoo members:

Dear Members:

In August, we shared with you the news about a Y staff person who had been caught using his cell phone camera in the Portage Y locker room. That person, Karan Singh, was arraigned yesterday. There were two victims identified, the first of whom reported the crime. We are respecting the second victim by not releasing her name.

As stated in August, we take these situations very seriously and do everything to keep our members safe. As normal operations procedures we:

  • do background and reference checks on all employees and volunteer,
  • screen all our members through the national sex offender registry,
  • strive to hire good people who support the core values of the Y, and
  • train our employees to be on the alert to situations that make people feel uncomfortable or look to be inappropriate behavior.

As a result of this particular situation, we have extended our efforts to include a newly installed security camera in the public space of the full access at the Portage, as an added precaution.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call on me or any member of our leadership team.

Steve Springsdorf, CEO
YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo
269-345-9622 ext. 123