Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
A man in Nassau County in New York has been arrested after he was found to have set up a chair outside a bathroom window of a Valley Stream home where he recorded a woman showering.
The New York Post reports that just before 10:15pm on Saturday 2 January 2021, Paul Cotugno arrived at the home, entering via the backyard.
With the assistance of a chair, which he stood on, he then proceeded to film the 25-year-old woman with his mobile phone while she was in the bathroom.
When the woman noticed the man recording at her window, she screamed, leading to him rapidly making off on foot from the property.
The 31-year-old man was eventually picked up by Nassau County police officers.
He was charged with unlawful surveillance and criminal trespass.
Under the state’s new bail reform law, Mr Cotugno was released on an appearance ticket instead of being held overnight and brought to court in the morning.
The Dark Trend of Secretly Filming Women with Hidden Cameras
According to a report from The Independent, in the last five to seven years, the number of women being secretly filmed with the aid of hidden cameras has increased exponentially.
In particular, trends show that Peeping Toms are installing cameras in rental and student properties, or public places such as toilets, change rooms and even tanning salons, for the intention of capturing explicit photos of women without their consent.
These photos are then usually shared to porn websites, which are known to house a growing market for voyeuristic content.
According to the experts, a significant part of this problem is technology.
Indeed, as recording technology becomes less expensive, more technologically advanced and more easily available to purchase, so too has the problem of secretly filming woman exacerbated.
More worryingly, experts also warn that due to the hidden nature of the problem, most women may never be aware they have been videoed.
Speaking of the social issue, Keith Roberts, who runs the company Advanced Sweeping which detects spy-cams and bugs, cautions that incidents of secret filming have risen due to more technologically advanced gadgets on the market.
“It has grown exponentially in the last five to seven years,” Mr Roberts informs.
“Our caseload is going up, which comes from these things being readily easy to buy. They used to have to go to spy shops but now it’s all on eBay and Amazon. It is shocking.”
Mr Roberts believes that technology can lead people down dark roads.
“It is terrifying. You have got to be very vigilant these days. We check businesses, residential homes, boats, vehicles,” he shares.
The company’s cases presently range from detecting spy cameras placed in homes by partners or exes, to situations where people use spying equipment to snoop on strangers.
In one particular case, a woman in a London flat was being spied on by her landlord who concealed a camera in the ceiling.
Another involved a case where an employee installed a camera in a tanning salon.
“That was really grim,” Mr Roberts says of the incident.
“So many people were connected. We felt it was necessary they contacted the police, and from what I remember the individual was arrested.”
In NSW, it is a criminal offence to film a person using a hidden spy camera without their consent while they engage in private acts. This is reflected in section 91K of the Crimes Act 1900,, which prescribes up to a penalty of two years in jail, and/or a fine of $11,000.
Section 91K advises for a general offence that it is a crime to film a person engaged in a private act without consent, knowing that person does not consent to being filmed for that purpose and where it is done for the purpose of obtaining or enabling someone else to obtain either sexual arousal or gratification.
A “private act” refers to circumstances where the person being filmed would naturally expect privacy in that situation.
This includes where the person is in a state of undress, using the toilet, shower or bath, is engaged in a sexual act that is not ordinarily done in public, or engaged in any other activity that is similar.
Have a question? Get in touch with our experienced criminal lawyers Sydney branch today.