Criminal Justice

Guilty plea from lawyer who peeped on his tenants

A recently licensed Maryland lawyer has pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor charges based on accusations that he secretly taped tenants in his home having sex with their boyfriends.

Dennis Alan Van Dusen, 64, pleaded guilty to three counts of “visual surveillance with prurient intent,” report the Washington Post and the Washington Examiner. Prosecutors had alleged Van Dusen charged below-market rents of less than $600 to lure tenants that he could record. Van Dusen did not, however, admit to a broader scheme of enticing female tenants with low rents, the Post says.

Prosecutor Stephen Chaikin told the Montgomery County Court that one of the tenants found the camera after reading an article in Cosmopolitan magazine about how new technology can be used to spy on people. The tenant had noticed the smoke detector above her bed didn’t beep when the power went out, and when she and her boyfriend took a closer look, they found the camera inside, the prosecutor said.

Police then searched Van Dusen’s home and found sexual images on his laptop and hard drives, according to the Post. Prosecutors plan to seek a sentence of up to 18 months in jail. Two tenants have pending lawsuits against Van Dusen.

The Maryland Court of Appeals approved Van Dusen’s bar admission in October 2012. In its order (PDF), the court said the Character Committee for the Seventh Appellate Circuit had made an unfavorable recommendation, while the State Board of Law Examiners made a favorable recommendation.

Van Dusen represented himself in oral arguments. During the proceedings, judges referenced a lawsuit Van Dusen had filed against his law school and questioned whether he believed in “scorched earth” litigation.

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