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Apr 5, 2013 4:31 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Second Lawsuit Alleges That Springs Landlord Videotaped Tenants

Apr 9, 2013 10:44 AM

A second lawsuit has been filed against Donald Torr, the owner of a rental property on Winterberry Lane in Springs, alleging that 16 tenants were secretly videotaped there last summer using cameras hidden in bedrooms, bathrooms and a hot tub.

The suit asks for $14.1 million in damages and was filed by Daniel J. Solinsky on January 18, 2013, in United States Eastern District Court in Central Islip on behalf of the 16 family members, who live in New York and include six children from 1 to 12 years old. It names both Mr. Torr and his wife, Astrid Torr, as defendants.

The suit alleges that video cameras were hooked up to the internet so the landlord could remotely watch recordings of their tenants. The cameras were strategically placed, it says, to view the tenants showering, in bed and in the hot tub, recording “private conversations and intimate sexual conduct of the adult plaintiffs” as well as the “genitalia and/or pubic areas” of the children.

“Unbeknownst to the plaintiffs ... the well equipped home had some bells and whistles they hadn’t bargained for—15 surveillance cameras that recorded the activities of the renters,” said a statement from Mr. Solinsky’s office at the law firm of Salenger, Sack, Kimmel & Bavaro in Woodbury.

Virtually the same claims have been made in a lawsuit filed for an extended family that rented the house as soon as Mr. Solinsky’s clients moved out. Filed on October 11, 2012, that suit alleged that nine adults and three children ranging in age from 17 months to 7 years-old were secretly filmed during a stay that was originally planned from August 26 until September 3, but was cut short when the tenants discovered hidden cameras in bedrooms and an outdoor shower on August 30.

According to that suit, which asks for $6.5 million in damages, Suffolk County Police executed a search warrant the next day, uncovering more cameras in bedrooms, a walk-in closet and directly above a Jacuzzi. Robert Clifford, a spokesman for the Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota’s office, said at the time that the Suffolk County DA’s Major Crime Bureau, the Suffolk County Police Department’s Electronic Investigations Unit and the East Hampton Town Police were investigating.

Mr. Clifford declined to comment on either case on Thursday. Mr. Solinsky confirmed that the DA’s office and the East Hampton Town Police were investigating his clients’ charges, as well.

To protect the children’s identities, neither lawsuit names the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs in the suit filed in January are three sisters along with their husbands and children and a brother, the uncle of all the children, according to Mr. Solinsky.

The attorney said one of the husbands was riding the train last October when he recognized the Torrs’ house in a photo in the newspaper and learned for the first time about the alleged recordings. “It’s pretty scary,” Mr. Solinsky said.

Reached in Florida on Friday, Mr. Torr declined comment before hanging up the phone.

His attorney, Steven Lee of Quirk and Bakalor in Manhattan, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment on Friday.

According to the suit filed in October, Mr. Torr told the tenants that the cameras were intended for security. “Looking for squatters is one thing, but you’re not going to be looking for squatters in the shower,” said Mr. Solinsky, who said one camera was hidden in a bamboo bathroom wall. The suit he filed alleges not only “the intentional acts, but also recklessness and negligence,” he said, considering what seems to be a defense that the cameras were meant to provide security. Like the other suit, Mr. Solinsky’s seeks an injunction to prevent the distribution or “maintaining” of any images of the tenants.

“To my knowledge, at least, at this point any hard drive ... is all in the hands of the police,” said the attorney, who has not yet communicated directly with the Torrs or their attorney.

As of Friday, the house was listed for rent for summer 2013 season on a web page, www.easthamptonrentalhome.com, where a “guestbook” logged rave reviews from tenants praising both the accommodations and the landlords as of March 2012.

“They did their homework,” Mr. Solinsky said of his tenants, explaining that they also looked at comments on places like tripadvisor.com and homeaway.com before booking their one-week rental in the Hamptons.

“It’s still listed—that’s shocking,” he said. “You would never know—there’s no indication or name of who to contact. For all intents and purposes, this thing could happen again.”

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Is this Don Torr, the former owner of the Crow's Nest Restaurant in Montauk? Otherwise known as Peeping Don by some of his female employees.
By East End 2 (150), Southampton on Apr 5, 13 7:08 PM
By davbud (127), east hampton on Apr 6, 13 2:33 PM
By davbud (127), east hampton on Apr 6, 13 2:34 PM
being that the case is not new - why wasn't this guy charged or locked up ?
By harrisw (27), sh on Apr 7, 13 2:30 PM