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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Criminal Voyeurism: Dr. Adam Levison and Other Cases

     The act of voyeurism runs the gamut of watching reality TV, to window peeping, to the use of hidden and clandestine cameras for one's sexual gratification. In an era of adult entertainment, it seems odd that so many teachers, clergymen, politicians, bosses, lawyers, and physicians have been caught using covert devices like pen cameras to satisfy their sexual curiosities.

     A man (this is not a crime usually committed by women) who risks his family, career, and position in society by secretly videotaping females (and young boys) changing clothes, showering, using the restroom, or merely going about their daily activity in skirts, must possess a powerful sexual compulsion that by any standard is deviant. Because this form of pathological voyeurism is also a crime, the clandestine video-taper also risks going to prison. The risk/reward imbalance inherent in this bizarre behavior suggests that these voyeurs are beyond the reach of counselors and medication.

Richard Watkins

     In March 2010, an elementary school teacher in Calne, a town of 13,000 in southwest England, was caught using a pen camera to video-record boys as they changed their clothes for physical education class. Richard Watkins had been doing this for two years, and had thousands of clandestinely acquired images on his home computer.

     The 28-year-old teacher and former children's entertainer (said to possess "circus skills"), pleaded guilty to thirteen counts of criminal voyeurism. The judge sentenced Watkins to four years in prison where he would have plenty of time to practice his juggling.

James Mucha

     In March 2011, James Mucha, an employee of a small manufacturing company in Avon Lake, Ohio, was caught using a pen camera in the women's restroom. A female employee noticed a pen standing upright behind the door after she closed it. Thinking this was an odd place for a writing instrument, the woman picked it up, unscrewed the cap, and found a mini-camera.

     The 43-year-old pen camera owner was charged in August 2011 with three counts of voyeurism. (The company fired him.) Three months later, the judge sentenced Mucha to 150 days in the county jail followed by one year of probation. The judge also fined him $2,000. (Voyeurs who video adult women usually get lighter sentences than men who record children.)

Joshua Waguespack

     In April 2012, in LeLand, Florida, police officers arrested Joshua Waguespack, a seventh grade math teacher at St. Peter's Catholic School. The 33-year-old had used a pen camera to take videos of two girls, ages 12 and 13, who used his teacher's storage closet to change into their gym clothes. He had downloaded these images onto his iPhone and iPad.

     After pleading no contest to two counts of criminal voyeurism in February 2013, the judge sentenced Waguespack to five years in prison. (This is a relatively heavy sentence for a defendant who pleaded guilty which suggests that Waguespack has a criminal history the judge didn't like.)

Dr. Adam Levison

     Having studied at the University of California Berkeley, Georgetown University, and the New York Medical College where he graduated at the top of his class, Dr. Adam Levison taught robotic surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital's School of Medicine in Manhattan. The 39-year-old assistant Professor of Urology lived in a posh West Greenwich Village apartment. Dr. Levison had prestige, good-looks, and money. From all appearances this man had it all. He also had a lot to lose.

     On Tuesday, August 2, 2012, a New York subway transit officer, acting on a tip from two passengers riding on the train with Dr. Levison, arrested the urologist for using a pen camera clipped to a folded newspaper to take shots up women's skirts. Taken into custody at the Union Square Station during the evening rush-hour, the doctor did not protest or proclaim his innocence.

     At his arraignment the day after his arrest, the judge charged Dr. Levison with second degree unlawful surveillance. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison. Dr. Levison posted bail, and was released.

     A search of the doctor's pen camera video footage confirmed the suspicions of his fellow subway passengers and the arresting transit officer. It's been seven months since his arrest, and a grand jury has yet to hear his case. The doctor has a court date scheduled for May 20. (I suspect a guilty plea, a probated sentence, and court-ordered counseling. I'm not sure how the conviction will affect Dr. Levison's medical career.)

     Mount Sinai Hospital, two months after the subway arrest, announced that the physician is no longer employed by the institution. This case is as tragic as it is mind-boggling. 

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