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Prosecutor Loses $129K Job, Is Accused of Creating Hostile Work Environment via ‘Spy Pen’ Photos

Posted Aug 9, 2012 3:44 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A longtime Connecticut prosecutor accused of creating a hostile work environment for female colleagues and court workers by secretly videotaping their legs with a "spy pen" in and around court and at his office was fired Friday from his $129,000-a-year job.

Senior Assistant Danbury State's Attorney David Holzbach, 52, had been a prosecutor for 24 years, according to the News-Times. He had been on paid administrative leave since April.

An earlier News-Times article provides further details about the investigative report that led to his termination.

It says the report, which was released Tuesday by Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane in response to a Freedom of Information request by the newspaper, documents incidents as far back as 1992. At that point, Holzbach was allegedly chastised for secretly photographing a woman. The report also says some female court workers dressed "so as not to attract his attention."

An April complaint that Holzbach had been seen photographing a woman with the spy pen, apparently in a courtroom, led to his firing. It was at least the fifth such complaint made about Holzbach over a period of 20 years or more, the Hartford Courant reported on its The Scoop blog.

Holzbach is also accused of setting up a camera to photograph women from his car.

The Scoop links to an Aug. 1 certified letter sent by Kane to Holzbach, in which Kane fires him effective Aug. 3, as well as the investigative report memorandum, which begins on the third page of the attached documentation, and other communications.

The letter says Holzbach's lengthy service and remorse was taken into consideration, but calls his behavior "completely intolerable" and says his termination was hence required.

The report memo says Holzbach repeatedly violated rules about having cameras in courtrooms, "disobeyed directives to not use recording devices without permission," repeatedly photographed and videotaped women in a "clandestine" manner on work time and "collected and maintained in his office voluminous pictures of women, some being bound and gagged."

It says the investigation of Holzbach began "after it was learned that Attorney Holzbach was again surreptitiously using an electronic device to take video recordings of females in the courthouse without their knowledge or permission. The device was a 'Brookstone Video Spy Pen' which is a large pen with a video camera concealed in it. Attorney Holzbach, on two prior occasions, was admonished to cease this type of behavior. On Friday, April 27, 2012, Sup. Asst. State's Attorney Warren Murray seized the pen that Holzbach was using in Courtroom 3 to film a female member of the defense bar."

The Hartford Courant and News-Times articles don't include any comment from Holzbach. However, a woman listed in the report as one of the people interviewed as part of the investigation said she knew nothing about it, according to the News-Times.

A New York Post article published before Holzbach was fired contains a very brief comment from the then-prosecutor in which he refers to “a lot of months of pain."

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