By Kitty Merrill
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Donald Torr, a one-time Montauk restaurateur and a Springs homeowner was indicted by a grand jury last Wednesday on charges that he secretly videotaped families that rented his house on Winterberry Lane in Springs.
Torr, 69, now lives in Celebration, Florida. Police were called to the rental property last August after a tenant found hidden cameras throughout the home. He was arrested by US Marshals at his house in Florida last month. He pleaded not guilty to charges of unlawful surveillance and endangering the welfare of a child in Suffolk County court.
Torr allegedly taped 13 adults and nine children in the home, using a remote system to view the footage from a different locale.
In court last Wednesday his attorney claimed the cameras were used for security purposes. They were reportedly set up in a bedroom, pointed at the bed, in a shower, and hidden in an air conditioning vent, a baseboard heater, and a smoke detector. ABC News reported some video footage showed victims nude.
Last year a New Jersey family filed a federal lawsuit against Torr, accusing him of spying on their group, which included three minors, aged seven, three and 17 months.
On August 30 of 2012, the lawsuit 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 tenants confronted Torr, who maintained the cameras were used for security. They left before their week's stay ended and he reportedly refunded their $6500 rent.
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.
Torr, who was the long-time owner of the Crow's Nest restaurant in Montauk, was released on $100,000 bail this week. He returns to court on July 11. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in jail.