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October 24, 2012

Accused Of Spying On Tenants



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(click for larger version)
Lots of people come out to The Hamptons to see and be seen . . . but not during their most private moments in their own accommodations. That's what a New Jersey family claims happened when they rented Don Torr's house on Winterberry Lane in Springs last August.

Police aren't talking about the ongoing investigation, but a federal lawsuit filed earlier this month spills the beans, accusing Torr of using hidden video cameras in the bedrooms and shower of the house to capture images of the tenants, a family that includes three minors, aged seven, three and 17 months.

According to court documents obtained by The Independent, the suit features anonymous pleadings, not listing the names of the plaintiffs because the case involves "a gross violation of privacy." On August 30, the complaint states, the tenants discovered hidden video cameras pointed directly at the beds in electrical boxes in two outlets, in an outdoor shower aimed right where a person's genitalia would be while he or she was showering, and in the air conditioning vent in another bedroom, pointed at the bed.

The day after the first cameras were found, Suffolk County police found more cameras hidden in a television, above a Jacuzzi tub, in a smoke detector in a walk-in closet, and in a bathroom baseboard heater. ABC News reported one of the tenants was watching TV when he noticed a camera lens, kicking off the search.

"During the entire period of the Plaintiffs' stay in the Home, all of the video cameras found in the Home were active and the video images that they captured were stored on the digital video recorder," the complaint states, reporting that the cameras were connected to a recorder that was connected to the internet allegedly allowing Torr to view the videos remotely.

The complaint states that during a taped phone conversation on September 3, Torr "admitted that he was able to view any video that was recorded remotely through the Internet." (Torr now resides in Florida.) The complaint continues, stating Torr "falsely claimed that all of the cameras, including those pointed towards beds and the one in the shower, had been installed only for security purposes."

The tenants left the house before the end of the rental period and Torr refunded their money, reportedly $6500, for a week's stay.

In all, the claim lists nine plaintiffs, and seeks compensatory and punitive damages totaling $6.45 million, plus attorneys' fees. The largest sum would go to the three children who were allegedly filmed nude, which is defined as "sexually explicit conduct" under the law. The adults were additionally filmed engaging in bedroom activities, the court document alleges.

Because a criminal investigation is ongoing, cops and the district attorney haven't commented. The family's attorney, Judd Burstein, however, was quoted stating the spying violates certain child pornography statutes.

Described as a secluded house in the woods, the five bedroom, 3500 square foot home is listed on the website flipkey. Rental prices run from $250 to $4500 per night. The site offers glowing reviews from past guests, one of who described Torr as "kind and accommodating." Others mention staying there with their children.

For years, Torr and his family owned the Crow's Nest restaurant in Montauk. According to his bio on flipkey, he lived at the Winterberry house for 15 years before retiring and moving to Celebration, Florida. He did not immediately return a call for comment.

kmerrill@indyeastend.com

  1. print email
    accused of spying on tenants
    October 24, 2012 | 11:10 AM

    I stayed not only at his motel, but at his house, so I am wondering just how far back this stuff has been going on. I had heard after we stayed there a rumor about a camera found in a shower head and now feel it was true. He deserves what ever he gets but his family doesn't as they are good people!

    Ada
  2. print email
    EH
    October 24, 2012 | 02:30 PM

    We don't know him that well but know his children somewhat and know they're really great successful people. As the other post read, and we agree, they don't deserve this. We say let the legal system prevail for him.

    CHW
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