Donald J. Torr, 69, owner of a rental property on Winterberry Lane in the Springs section of East Hampton Town, was arraigned Wednesday in front of Suffolk County Justice John Iliou on charges that he secretly taped and viewed tenants' intimate behavior at his $7,000 a week rental house.
"He was taking their money and invading their privacy at the same time," John Cortez, an assistant Suffolk County district attorney, said in the hallway outside Justice Iliou's court in Riverside. "This defendant secretly videotaped 13 adults and 9 children, without their permission."
According to East Hampton Town police, they first received a call on August 31, from a tenant, who, they said, had discovered numerous hidden cameras throughout the house.
Assisted by the Suffolk County Police Department, East Hampton Town police built the case against Mr. Torr, which they say include "numerous" families as victims, concluding with an indictment that was issued by a grand jury last month.
Mr. Torr was arrested by United States marshals at his house on Celebration Avenue in Celebration, Fla., on May 21, and was extradited to New York earlier this week.
To date, two of the families who rented the Winterberry Lane house last year have filed civil lawsuits against Mr. Torr.
Mr. Torr is facing 14 counts of unlawful surveillance in the second degree, which is a low-level felony, and nine counts of misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child.
The unlawful surveillance charge is brought when police believe that a defendant has taped or viewed private acts of an intimate nature.
Mr. Torr's attorney, Bruce Barket of Barket, Marion, Epstein and Kearon, had a very different view of what had occurred at 18 Winterberry Lane. "As we have maintained all along, since this investigation began, he did nothing criminal," Mr. Barket said during an interview outside the courtroom.
In response to a reported admission by Mr. Torr that he had taped the two families with cameras in bedrooms and one hidden in a bathroom, Mr. Barket said, "The admission by him is that there were cameras. And he said that they were not on when people were actively renting the house."
"Cameras are in many homes these days for security reasons, especially rental homes, to make sure the houses are secure when renters aren't there and to prevent vandalism when renters are there," Mr. Barket said.
Justice Iliou set bail for Mr. Tor at $100,000, which Mr. Barket indicated would be posted.