Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Carmel on the Case: Video Voyeurism
Did a South Florida IRS agent use a hidden camera to spy on a young woman who rented a room in his house? A jury has decided, and investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case with the verdict.
WSVN -- Detective: "You have the right to remain silent."
It was 2007 and Ken Ryals was being read his rights by Davie Police after a hidden camera was discovered in the room he rented to young woman.
Ken Ryals: "It didn't work when I tried it."
But after detectives brought in the equipment and showed him it did work, Ryals admitted he watched her.
Detective: "So this was more for your viewing pleasure."
Ken Ryals: "It was for my viewing pleasure."
Detective: "How long would you say you've been doing things like that?"
Ken Ryals: "A couple of years."
Detective: "A couple of years?"
Ken Ryals: "Yea."
After that admission, Ryals was charged criminally with video voyeurism, but the charge was dropped when a judge refused to allow the video taped statement as evidence.
Ken Ryals: "Good morning, I want to thank you for all being here."
But Ryals still had to face a jury after the victim filed a civil suit over the spying issue, and this time his videotaped statement was allowed into evidence.
Miranda Foldston was a 24-year-old college student when she discovered the camera in the VCR Ryals provided. A camera that she says was pointed at her bed. She sued Rals for invasion of privacy.
Miranda Goldston: "Everything that I did in the privacy of my room he watched everything."
Her attorney Walter Mathews told the jury Ryals ran his Davie townhouse like a boarding house.
Walter Mathews: "Where he preyed on young women by luring them into renting a private, fully furnished room at an economy rate and then he secretly spied on them in their bedroom for months, for years."
Ryals acted as his own attorney. He told the jury he admitted to spying on his tenants only because police engaged in misconduct by pressuring and threatening him during his interrogation.
Ken Ryals: "Why do police officers engage in misconduct? Perhaps to make their case. Oh, but I'm a federal agent that puts an extra notch into their belt."
Miranda testified she first became suspicious when Ryals started sunbathing nude outside the sliding glass doors to her room, and in one incident she said he masturbated there.
Miranda Goldston: "You could have been masturbating all day. I don't know. I wasn't watching you."
Ken Ryals: "I wish I could."
Miranda Goldston: "That's disgusting."
It took the jury only a couple of hours to reach a verdict.
Judge Michele Towbin Singer: "You can publish the verdict."
The jury found Ryals had invaded her privacy and hit him with damages that total $476,200. Miranda says the case is about more than money.
Miranda Goldston: "It felt so good to have a group of people who were non biased coming into it say 'yes this guy is guilty.'"
Carmel Cafiero: "What do you have to say about the verdict?"
Ken Ryals: "I liked the verdict."
Carmel Cafiero: "Do you have a half million dollars to pay her?"
Ken Ryals: "Definitely not."
Carmel Cafiero: "So what are you going to do about it then?"
Ken Ryals: "If you don't have it, it doesn't get paid."
Carmel Cafiero: "So you think this is just nothing then, right, no consequence here for you?"
Ken Ryals: "No comment."
On the other hand, Miranda's attorney says they have eight years to collect and will begin the process immediately.
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