Atascadero contractor convicted of upskirting woman, facing lawsuit

Eric Owens

By KAREN VELIE

An Atascadero woman filed a lawsuit Friday against a youth football coach who was recently convicted of filming under the victim’s skirt, and then downloading the film for his own gratification.

The conviction did not require his inclusion on the sex offender registry or the loss of his position as a coach and the athletic director for the Atascadero Youth Football League.

More than five years ago, Tanya and Robert Degnan hired their neighbor and local handyman, from across the street, to work on their home. While her husband, a sheriff’s deputy, was at work, Eric Owens asked Tanya Degnan to get up on a step stool and read the numbers off an electrical unit.

While she read the numbers, Owens placed his phone under her skirt and filmed her crotch while his 3-year-old son stood next to him.

Earlier this year, Owen’s estranged wife discovered the illicit video on his computer.

“His wife called me down there that night,” Tanya Degnan said. “She put it on a hard drive so I would have proof of this. There were other videos they found, but you could not see the faces of those women.”

Tanya Degnan said she was disappointed in prosecutors and the judge who did not want her to get a restraining order claiming Owens wanted to keep his guns.

“I do not feel I got justice in the case at all,” Tanya Degnan said. “They never contacted me. I wanted a voice. The DA would never reach out to me.”

In August, Owens received a 30-day suspended sentence, three years formal probation, 100 hours of community service, and a $280 fine. The court ordered Owens to stay 50 yards away from the couple, who still see him regularly at youth athletic events.

After learning of the charges, officials with the Atascadero Youth Football League decided to allow Owens to continue coaching children and to serve as their athletic director. League officials did not respond to questions from reporters regarding their decision.

In the lawsuit filed Friday, the Degnans accuse Owens and his business Handy-Home, of invading their privacy for his own morbid and degrading sexual interests. The Degnans are asking for $25,000 or more in damages.

Correction: It was the judge not the district attorney who did not want Tanya Degnan to get a restraining order.

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