Making Video Voyeurism A Crime

It's scary to realize that your precious right to be left alone is rapidly eroding.

But as one family in the town of Monroe, La., discovered, it is even scarier to learn you have ittle protection against someone looking at you through the advanced eyes of technology.CBS This Morning co-anchor Jane Robelot reports.


Gary Wilson of Monroe, Louisiana will tell you, "This is the kind of town where when you wave, they wave back."

Two years ago, when Gary and his wife, Susan, moved into a quaint neighborhood and a bigger home, they considered themselves lucky. Mrs. Wilson's old high school friend, Stephen Glover, lived down the block. He had attended their wedding, was a deacon in their church and helped them get the house. "We were neighbors, our kids played together," says Gary.

But the Wilsons began to feel that their neighbor knew a little too much about them. Mrs. Wilson recalls, "One day I was looking at my college yearbook; it had just come in. That evening, he came by and said 'I know what you have been doing all day, you have been looking at that yearbook, haven't you?'"

The families had keys to each other's houses, something that worried Susan. So one weekend she and her sister went into Glover's house, and they found a surprising videotape.

Mrs. Wilson said, "My sister said 'That is your bed.' Then my image came on there. I realized it was indeed my bed."

Glover had a video camera focused on the Wilsons' bed in what they thought was their most private room. The discovery led Wilson to the attic of his home where, moving the insulation back, he discovered a 13-inch TV under the insulation.

"We knew we had holes in the ceiling," says Wilson, adding, "We couldn't believe that he was able to shoot the pictures he could through the holes that were here because they were so small."

And Mrs. Wilson says, "I felt exposed. I couldn't handle anything. I didn't want to go out in public, because it just was so uncomfortable."

So uncomfortable that she couldn't sleep in her bed anymore. She made make-shift sleeping quarters in the closet. The Wilsons soon found camera holes in other places, too, like over the shower where a miniature lens had captured what the Wilsons thought were moments of solitude. When a light in the shower blew, Mrs. Wilson never replaced it.

She explained: "I need the darkness to protect me. It's as if my skin has been ripped off. So everything hurts. The light hurts, and once it's dark, I don't have to think about what I see."

More disturbing still, the Wilsons also found holes in their children's bathroom, although no tapes were ever found. Glover even watched his own home - planting a camera in the room next to his hot tub, a room guests used for changing.

How much time did he get for this invasion of privacy? Not any.

According to District Attorney Jerry Jones, "You have the peepng Tom - that has been against the lawÂ…in every state. He's a criminal, but the video part is not."

That's because technology is ahead of the law. If Glover had peeked through a window, he could have been arrested. But he used a camera instead, and cannot be prosecuted.

"There had to be something written down somewhere that said this was illegal. It was such an invasion," Wilson said in disbelief. But there wasn't. In the end, Glover plead guilty to unauthorized entry and got three years on probation.

District Attorney Jerry Jones doesn't see this as an isolated case. He says, "Not just Louisiana but every state needs to deal with it quickly, or they are going to have what I have and that's a victim."

Mrs. Wilson is trying to prevent others from suffering as she did. Along with the district attorney, she's trying to get a law passed making video voyeurism a crime. And she says, "Not just a misdemeanor, I want a felony with serious charges."

And she wants it spelled out exactly who gets to see the evidence, explaining: "I have had officers coming on to me, making comments like, 'Well, you have lost weight, haven't you?' And referring to me as a performer on the tape." The police department says that Mrs. Wilson has had plenty of opportunities to file a complaint but she has not.

As for Glover, he admits to taping the Wilsons, but he denies taping their children and offers an apology through his lawyer, Lavalle Salomon: "He wishes it had never occurred both for himself, for Mrs. Wilson, for her family...friends and everyone else that has been adversely affected." For Mrs. Wilson, the sentiment falls short and she's brought a civil suit against Glover for invasion of privacy.

The Wilsons have put their house up for sale, resigned to leave what they once called a home and now think of as a prison.

"It's just a very basic need that you have, shelter and privacy," she said. "I just never realized what a great need it is. Once it's gone, how do you get it back?"

If the law is passed in Louisiana it will go in effect in September. However, the Monroe District Attorney says there are only about 10 ten states that have such laws.

©1999 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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