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Oct 9, 2014 2:05 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Former Montauk Resident Sentenced After Illegally Spying On Tenants

Oct 13, 2014 8:20 AM

A former Montauk resident who pleaded guilty to spying on two different families while they rented a house he owned in Springs was sentenced to five years of probation on Thursday after pleading guilty to more than a dozen felony charges in late July, according to Suffolk County District Court records.

Donald J. Torr, 71, the former owner of the Crow’s Nest in Montauk, will also be transported back to his home of Celebration, Florida, as part of his sentencing. He was arrested in August 2013 for hiding surveillance cameras throughout his rental home on Winterberry Lane and charged with 14 felony counts of unlawful surveillance and nine misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

“I think from what I know of Mr. Torr, he’s had a stellar work ethic throughout his life,” said his attorney Aida Leisenring, of Barket, Marion, Epstein and Kearon LLP, in a phone interview. “He’s consistently contributed to charities throughout his life, he’s raised a lovely family that supported him through all of this and I think the judge saw that.”

Ms. Leisenring said Mr. Torr, who was facing up to four years in prison, will also not be listed on New York’s or Florida’s sexual offender registry because the judge felt “he didn’t have a predisposition for that type of behavior.”

In 2012, the East Hampton Town Police and the Suffolk County Police Department conducted an investigation at the home after one of the tenants discovered cameras hidden in outlet boxes in two occupied bedrooms, an air-conditioning vent in another bedroom and in an outdoor shower. The tenants—an extended family of nine, including three children—later filed a $6.5 million lawsuit against Mr. Torr, claiming the cameras were pointed “in a manner to permit defendant to view a person’s genitalia,” according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs asked that their identity remain anonymous in the lawsuit to protect the safety of the children involved, who range in age from 17 months to 7 years old. A search warrant was issued the day after the suit was filed and more cameras were found in bedrooms, a walk-in closet, and directly above a hot tub.

Shortly after the first group of tenants filed suit, a second group of tenants—16 people, six of whom were children from 1 to 12—also sued Mr. Torr for $14.1 million in damages, claiming they, too, were illegally and inappropriately videotaped during their stay.

Their suit reads almost identically to the first, alleging that 15 cameras were placed around the home, recording “private conversations and intimate sexual conduct of the adult plaintiffs” and the “genitalia and/or pubic areas” of the children.

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This guy isn't going to jail?!
By TheGoodLife (43), Westhampton Beach on Oct 9, 14 3:36 PM
What a joke! 5 years probation and not a registered sex offender??? He plead guilty to over a dozen felony counts! The judge felt “he didn’t have a predisposition for that type of behavior.” I guess placing 15 cameras throughout your property aimed to capture photos of genitals is not predisposition. Is he getting a first class plane ticket back to FL. as well?

Why isn't the judge named in the article? Please keep in mind her name (Barbara Kahn) the next time you ...more
By Arnold Timer (327), Sag Harbor on Oct 9, 14 6:09 PM
You mean this pig walks, and get no registered sex offender status? That is a travesty of justice, he should have gone to jail. Was the judge greased?
By SisBoomBonacker (106), Hamptons on Oct 10, 14 3:41 PM
And you wonder why we have problems? And last weeks gunman should have gone straight to a psych ward for the safety of himself and the community.
By Woods woman (145), East hampton on Oct 12, 14 10:43 PM
There are many landlord especially in the EH village with hidden cameras who use them for the sole purpose of controlling and snooping on their tenants. Especially those who have no life and/or day to day jobs outside of their own home.
By lizziebay (7), BH on Oct 22, 14 1:29 PM