Wednesday, September 6, 2017
The Illinois Administrator has charged an attorney with illegally videotaping a colleague changing clothes in the office.
The conduct resulted in a misdemeanor conviction.
Between June 2010 and September 30, 2016, Respondent was employed as an associate at the law firm of "John Doe" LLC (hereinafter, "the firm"). From August, 2011 to the present, J. T. was also an associate at the firm.
Prior to the time that J.T. started his employment at the firm, Respondent and J.T. knew each other through mutual friends. In fact, Respondent introduced J.T. to the firm’s hiring partner, John Doe, for possible employment at the firm.
The firm’s practice is concentrated in the area of commercial litigation but the firm’s dress code is casual, allowing for the attorneys to often wear casual clothing to the office. However, when an attorney is meeting with a client, attending a deposition or handling a court appearance, appropriate professional attire is required.
As a result of the firm’s causal dress code practices, attorneys employed at the firm often have a change of clothes that is appropriate courtroom attire in their offices, and they change clothes in their offices before leaving for court, a deposition or a client meeting.
Between June and September 2016, on at least 20 different occasions, when Respondent knew that J.T. would be changing clothes in his office, Respondent placed a usb video flash drive in a hidden location in J.T.’s office without J.T.’s knowledge or consent. Using the usb flash drive, Respondent videotaped J.T. in various states of undress while J.T. was changing clothes. On each of these occasions, Respondent subsequently retrieved the device, and watched the videos for his own sexual and emotional gratification. Whenever Respondent knew J.T. had a reason to be changing clothes in his office, he would then replace the usb video flash drive into J.T.’s office.
At no time between June and September 2016, did J.T. know or consent to this videotaping of him changing clothes in his office. J.T. however, did notice that Respondent was spending an unusual amount of time in and around J.T.’s office and became concerned about it.
On September 27, 2016, J.T. found the hidden camera USB video flash drive located in the inbox in his office behind his desk.
On September 27, 2016, J.T. placed the device in his computer to view its contents. The next day, J.T. located videos sequenced 11-28 on the usb video flash drive. The videos were typically a half-hour long showing J.T. in states of undress and changing his clothes.
On September 30, 2016, J.T. informed John Doe of the above incidents and unauthorized videotaping. John Doe talked to Respondent, who then resigned from the firm.
On November 30, 2016, the Cook County State’s attorney’s office indicted Respondent on 2 counts of felony unauthorized videotaping, in violation of 720 ILCS Act 5, Section 26-4(a). People of the State of Illinois v. Michael Herbst, 16CR17557.
At all times alleged in this complaint it was a crime for "any person to knowingly make a video record or transmit live video of another person without that person’s consent in a changing room…" 720 ILCS Act 5 Section 26-4(a).
On May 4, 2017, Respondent pled guilty to one count of unauthorized videotaping, reduced from a felony charge to a misdemeanor.
On May 4, 2016, Respondent was sentenced to reporting probation for two years with a scheduled termination date of May 4, 2019, with 40 hours of community service, a no-contact order with J.T., and restitution to the firm in the sum of $6095.50.
There have been a number of these cases in the D.C. region that have led to substantial sanctions. (Mike Frisch)