Matthew Krakowski, 35, is led out of Macomb County Circuit Court in handcuffs April 16 after being sentenced to at least three years behind bars after illegally capturing and distributing images of gym members.

Matthew Krakowski, 35, is led out of Macomb County Circuit Court in handcuffs April 16 after being sentenced to at least three years behind bars after illegally capturing and distributing images of gym members.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Clinton Township gym owner sentenced to prison for spying on members

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published April 16, 2019

  Judge James Biernat listens as one of the victims tells her story.

Judge James Biernat listens as one of the victims tells her story.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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"In my book, you’re a disgusting monster."

Victim,

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — A former CrossFit facility owner in Clinton Township will spend at least three years in prison.

Matthew Krakowski, 35, of Casco Township, was sentenced by Macomb County Circuit Court Judge James Biernat April 16 to between 36 and 240 months in prison.

The sentence, which will run concurrently, stems from 14 charges of capturing and distributing images of unclothed individuals, including a minor.

Due to one of the victims being a minor, Krakowski must register as a sex offender. Also, he must remain at least 500 feet away from each of the victims.

The charges and sentencing stemmed from a Clinton Township Police Department investigation that revealed that Krakowski, who owned the Switch CrossFit facility at 22675 Morelli Drive, used visual devices to capture images of both male and female members at the workout facility.

In April 2018, a warrant was issued for Krakowski’s arrest. He later turned himself in to police and secured an attorney.

On Feb. 21 of this year, the defendant pleaded no contest, meaning he did not admit guilt, although the sentencing guidelines treat his plea as guilty.

 

Victims speak out
Several victims spoke publicly in court April 16 while Krakowski sat off to the side, next to his attorney, Stephen Rabaut.

The victims requested that neither their names nor their photos be released to the public.

One by one, the victims stood at a podium and told the court — and Krakowski — how they felt, as well as how the ramifications of Krakowski’s choices have impacted their lives.

One victim, who had joined the CrossFit facility in July 2017, described her emotions as “anger, disbelief, despair, humiliation.”

“I kept thinking, how could someone I trusted so much betray me?” the woman said.

Another victim felt he had a bond with Krakowski, due to both being military veterans. Krakowski served two tours in Iraq as part of the U.S. Army, prior to opening the Clinton Township-based facility. He called Krakowski’s actions “premeditated” and a violation of basic human rights, saying that the former gym owner “took away that comfort and relief” of being a gym member.

Another victim expressed rage, often looking in Krakowski’s direction while tears streamed down her face.

“In my book, you’re a disgusting monster,” the victim said.

Another victim said the illegal act caused her to feel shame and embarrassment. She felt closed off from society and her husband, feeling heightened anxiety in public. She even mentioned having nightmares in which Krakowski’s face appears, spying on her in her dreams.

And then there was a couple who spoke on behalf of their child, who was 6 years old at the time images of him were captured. Each spoke of how heartbreaking it is to deal with a child who has been affected by this, even if he does not understand the full scope of what actually occurred.

 

‘Complete betrayal of our trust’
Rabaut said the victims’ statements were “fully understood and fully respected,” adding that his client had “always expressed extreme remorse.”

Krakowski has undergone counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder, which Rabaut said was “one of the demons he’s dealing with in his life.”

A stoic Krakowski said he takes “full responsibility” for his actions and will work to better himself. Victims in the audience groaned at his statement.

Assistant Macomb County Prosecuting Attorney Bill Harding said he couldn’t express what the victims were going through better than the victims themselves. He said there may be “countless” others whose images were captured over the years, but are not represented in the legal system.

“(Krakowski) invaded (the victims’) privacy in their most intimate moments, to satisfy his perverse desire,” Harding said.

Biernat seemed stunned as to how someone like Krakowski — a military vet who started a business in the community — could “throw it all away.” He said the emotional fatigue of the victims will rest squarely on Krakowski’s shoulders.

Attorneys Maurice Davis, of Davis Law Group in Southfield, and Jasmine Rand, of Rand Law in Miami, Florida, filed a civil lawsuit April 15 against Switch CrossFit and CrossFit Inc. on behalf of the victims.

Following the sentencing, Davis said he was a member at the same Clinton Township location that Krakowski owned and managed.

“I knew Matt well. I was completely surprised by (his actions) and felt betrayed,” Davis said. “I had no idea he would do something like this. He seemed like a good guy. He would make a few creepy comments here and there, but I really didn’t think they would rise to the level of recording individuals that came to the gym, in their intimate moments when they’re in the restroom or shower.

“It was a complete betrayal of our trust. For us, it was like a family. It just shocks the conscience.”

The civil lawsuit aims to compensate victims and “make them feel as whole as possible,” in the form of compensation exceeding $25,000.

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