A landlord in Chevy Chase, Md., has pleaded guilty to spying on female tenants living in his suburban home and watching them have sex. Dennis Alan Van Dusen, 64, stuck hidden cameras inside smoke detectors in the home to record his tenants’ intimate moments with their boyfriends and also filmed them through windows, NBC Washington reported. Van Dusen, a Harvard-educated lawyer, was convicted of a misdemeanor and faces sentencing in July.
“He’s a modern-day Peeping Tom,” Montgomery County state’s attorney spokesman Ramon Korionoff told NBC Washington. “He stole not only these women’s privacy, he stole their peace of mind.” One of the victims expressed disbelief that Van Dusen’s crime was classified as a misdemeanor. “The criminal justice system needs to keep up with technology,” the victim, who asked not to be identified, told WUSA-TV in Washington, D.C.
According to prosecutors statements to local media, Van Dusen’s spying was discovered by one of the victims when she noticed that the smoke detector in her room was not flashing and beeping like the other detectors in the home during power outages. The victim had read an article in Cosmopolitan magazine about other landlords using fake smoke detectors to spy on tenants and that’s when she checked out the smoke detector in her room and found the cameras.
The Washington Post reported that Van Dusen was accused of charging below-market rents of $600 or less to entice female tenants to live in the home, though Van Dusen denied this. His home is reportedly worth $1.1 million. Police searched Van Dusen’s house and found sexual images on his computer, the Post said. Prosecutors have said they are seeking an 18-month jail sentence for Van Dusen. According to the ABA Journal, two of Van Dusen’s tenants are pursuing lawsuits against him.
Unfortunately, stories of electronic spying landlords aren’t uncommon. In a prominent case from October 2012, a landlord in tony East Hampton, N.Y., was accused of using hidden cameras to spy on a family “in the nude” and capture their “bedroom activities.” The family was suing for $4.6 million. And a second lawsuit reportedly was filed against the landlord, Donald Torr, in January by a different family — seeking $14.1 million.
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