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Third Peeping Incident in a Month

BU Police ask students for help

39

Smartphones are convenient, pocket-sized gadgets that allow users to snap pictures or record videos on the fly, and in the wrong hands they can be dangerously invasive devices—especially on a college campus.

That was the case early Friday morning when a woman showering at Warren Towers spotted an iPhone on the floor, apparently recording her. When she tried to squash the device with her foot, she cut it on a jagged tile. As she did, a hand reached into the shower and grabbed the phone. The suspected photographer immediately fled the bathroom.

Friday’s peeping incident marks the third time in the past month that women have reported surreptitious shower photographers to the Boston University Police Department. Two other peepings occurred in women’s showers in Claflin Hall, one on January 22 and the other three days later.

No suspects have been identified, and Scott Paré, deputy director of public safety and BUPD deputy chief, says at this point police have little to go on. “There’s not enough right now to relate them or say it’s the same person,” he says. Officials are continuing to investigate the incidents and encourage anyone with more information to share it with the police at 617-353-2121.

Under Massachusetts law, photographing, videotaping, or electronically surveilling people without their knowledge or consent is punishable by up to two and half years in prison, a $5,000 fine, or both. Distributing such images could slap another five years and $5,000 on the penalty.

On the national front, several states have updated their voyeurism and privacy laws in response to deviant use of new technology. California has one of the toughest privacy statutes, covering high-tech intrusions taken “under and through the clothing” or with “a visual or auditory enhancing device,” such as night-vision goggles.

Overseas, Japanese officials have seen an alarming spike in what’s called “smartphone voyeurism.” More than 1,700 cases were reported last year, a 60 percent increase over 2006, according to its National Police Agency.

Paré advises students to take extra precautions. Roommates and friends could look out for one another in the showers, and dorm residents should always scan hallways and bathrooms for suspicious people.

“A lot of times it’s just that one person that raises the hair on the back of your neck,” Paré says. “Most of the time your intuitions are correct.”

Call the Boston University Police, at 617-353-2121, with information about these or similar incidents, or anonymously text the BUPD at 847411.

39 Comments
Leslie Friday, BU Today, Boston University
Leslie Friday

Leslie Friday can be reached at lfriday@bu.edu; follow her on Twitter at @lesliefriday.

39 Comments on Third Peeping Incident in a Month

  • Ari Trachtenberg on 02.22.2012 at 8:26 am

    I am not familiar with this supposed MA law. News reporters and surveillance cameras regularly videotape people in public places without their consent or knowledge.

    • Charlie Morris on 02.22.2012 at 3:38 pm

      The reason they can videotape people without their consent or knowledge is because they are in a public place/can be seen from a public place. Videotaping someone in private place without their consent is, however, very illegal. There are of course some stipulations to this. If someone is in a private place, but can be seen/heard from a public place, then it is legal to videotape/record them, but doing so is getting into a very grey area, and would most likely be up to a judge’s discretion. Hope the clears things up for you. As a general rule, don’t go videotaping people in bathrooms ;)

  • Lara on 02.22.2012 at 8:28 am

    I am happy that BU Today is reporting incidents of voyeurism, sexual assault, and other dangers happening across campus and targeting women and girls. Reports like this could potentially hurt the reputation of Boston University, but the institution would be worse off if they tried to brush these incidents under the rug. I hope they find the man who’s “peeping” in women’s showers. It sounds like the women’s dorms at BU are scary places to be…

  • MW on 02.22.2012 at 8:38 am

    Phone in the shower, on the floor…. is it waterproof? I don’t think such a model of iPhone has been invented yet.

    • Mo on 02.22.2012 at 11:17 am

      I agree. I thought all phones had a moisture sensor that would stop it from working (and usually void warranty which we find out the ‘hard’ way). Maybe he’s just trying to create fear and maybe the phone doesn’t even work! Let’s hope so. He should be expelled and arrested either way, and the punishment should fit the crime. Film the freak too.

      • David Keefe on 02.22.2012 at 11:22 am

        Who said it was a “He”?

        • Mo on 02.22.2012 at 2:00 pm

          Creepy as that may be, but I read/ heard it appeared to be a guys hand.

  • Just Saying on 02.22.2012 at 9:19 am

    Ok With all the technology out there, why can’t we get each phones to detect someone approaching bathroom stall while someone is showing, or using toilets.

    like infrared lighting, it alerts you that someone male or female is in the stall without your knowledge, this gives you time to find out who is out there before you disrobe to shower, or anything else.
    you might can the peeping tom in the act.

    • anon on 02.22.2012 at 1:19 pm

      literally the dumbest idea ive ever heard in my life

      • Tatiana on 02.23.2012 at 12:53 pm

        lmao i was thinking the same thing haha

  • Mo on 02.22.2012 at 10:46 am

    Maybe if the university stepped up it’s security anticipating the advancement in technology. This was the one thing I told my daughter to be aware of (something I didn’t have to worry of in college). She thought I was crazy for mentioning it. Knowing this kind of garbage was on the horizon at BU, why couldn’t ‘security’ be more proactive? I know on the college tours parents raised concerns of coed floors with no separation between the guy side and girl side. It would be smart in today’s day in age to, have a key swipe outside each bathroom that would identify ‘users’ that they could track in the event something bad happens. BU is lucky this ‘guy’ is peeping only he could assault or worse. If that is too ‘expensive’ then maybe it’s time to make it just coed dorms rather than floors. Then, instead of out of bathrooms, put One card scanner upon entering floor. I know it sounds big brotherish but for 55K I would like to know my child is protected and not a victim. It would certainly be a deterrent. How stressful for these girls who have to worry about the video he has. I hope they catch this kid too and prosecute to the fullest extent BU can.

    • Current student on 02.22.2012 at 11:26 am

      Mo,
      As a female who currently attends BU and lives on one of the coed floors in Warren, I completely agree with you and was saying the same thing after this incident occurred. Other city schools already have mechanisms like this in place. You have to swipe your card to get onto your residential floor, and you can’t use your card to swipe into another person’s floor. I don’t see why, when we pay more than these other students do to go to BU, security hasn’t been increased. I shouldn’t have to be paranoid in the showers or on my floor, bottom line. It’s ridiculous that this happened to begin with, and I hope BU will respond appropriately with higher security measures.

      • Mo on 02.22.2012 at 2:28 pm

        Well said. Maybe they should contact these other schools …anyone at security listening??? I worry that if one of these girls grab the phone, will this guy try to do something in retaliation as the showering girl is very vulnerable at that moment. This person is not mature or mentally balanced. Hopefully, there are not copy cats out there as well.

    • nrc on 02.22.2012 at 11:31 am

      I agree with what you are saying, but it wouldn’t take much for someone to get around that. A guy could certainly sneak in behind a girl without having to swipe in. I agree that it’s alarming, but I’m not sure what could realistically be done.

    • Really? on 02.22.2012 at 12:02 pm

      Even though I understand your distress as a mother, the options you propose are not only extreme but incovenient. I might also add that many of the dorms have private bathroom with locks (South suites/apartments, Brownstones, both Student Villages, 1019, and others). If you want your child to be “safe” make her change from a undergrad dorm and move her into a suite in south were she will share the same bathroom with just a couple other girls. However, as someone else mentioned above, who said is a “he”. When I lived on campus anyone would have noticed a man enter a women’s restroom and viceversa (remember that the men’s restroom is on their side and the womens on the womens side). If such is the case, I doubt that your proposal for key swipe would make a difference. With all respect, I know you want to keep your daughter safe, but BU does do a whole load of work to keep the campus as safe as possible. As to your last sentence point, I am sure if BU catches the person they will prosecute them to the fullest.

      • JS on 02.22.2012 at 8:43 pm

        The point here is that no dorm should be safer than another. We shouldn’t have to move our children to South Campus (which is hard to do, by the way) to ensure their safety; all dorms should be of comparable, quality security.

    • Nick on 02.22.2012 at 1:09 pm

      Do you have any idea how extreme the measures are your proposing. Seriously a key-swipe to get into a friggin bathroom?

      If I need my key to get into the bathroom, Im obviously not going to take it into the shower so I’d leave it somewhere in the bathroom. Anyone can steal it, and now your wonderous solution of who goes in and out of the bathroom/hall is ruined, because the “culprit” would just use my identity to commit all his or her crimes.

      So it solves nothing and is wholesomely inconvenient…

      • Mo on 02.22.2012 at 2:14 pm

        Aren’t these keys/ IDs waterproof? If you lose your card you report it right? If you loan it to a friend and something happens and your accused, then you turn in your ‘friend’. At least there’s a paper trail. I’m aware that other dorms have are more current in their security. We are talking about Warren…cmon that place hasn’t been updated in 30 years and it’s a dump. Warren being so big everyone swipes at 4th floor but who in the he’ll knows where they go from there. Largest dorm in the country? BU should have a better plan in place. And if you think someone can’t get in without swiping, then check the stairwells where everyone hangs out to smoke. Sad you may have to ‘friggin’ swipe to pee, but I’d rather err on side of caution in today’s cyber world. One 30 sec video could violate the privacy of an innocent person. A young girl shouldn’t have to be worried about showering without one eye open.

        • H. on 02.22.2012 at 3:27 pm

          First of all, Warren is not the biggest dormitory in the country. Yes, warren might be old and yes there are flaws in its security system, but it still has greater security than many other schools such as MIT. I have not personally tried, but I doubt that you can access the 4th passed the security guards through those stairs.

          From what you suggest BU should also put ID scanners in CAS, SMG, SED, or anywhere were there is a restroom? since I personally do not think is a matter of who enters and leaves the building, what I think is plausible is to make the showers more private ( full door that goes from the ceiling to the floor and can be locked). However, I still do not blame BU as bad people. Call my a cynic but I believe you always have to keep an eye open because if we assess the risk of something happening to us..

        • Paul on 02.22.2012 at 3:47 pm

          Just a fact check, Warren Tower’s is not the largest dorm in the country. The largest dorm in the country belongs to the University of Texas’s Jester. Furthermore Warren Towers has experienced an ongoing renovation since 2009, I only know because the place has made changes since I’ve lived there. (mainly furniture and elevator floors) Hopefully these incidents will make BU renovate the bathrooms to be more private, but I’m not holding my breath.

        • The Voice of Reason on 02.22.2012 at 4:04 pm

          Mo,
          I understand your desire to keep your daughter safe; it is both respectable and understandable, however, your proposal is both extreme and unreasonable. You’ve proposed that warren force students to swipe both onto their floors and into their bathrooms. What you need to realize is that the students here are adults and as such, should be at liberty to do as they please, so long as they are not intruding on another’s rights. I think we will both agree that my right to freely move from floor to floor or go to the bathroom without needing to swipe in does not interfere with anyone else’s right to their privacy. Where your right/the right of your daughter comes in is in deciding how you choose to make your own decisions. This may include choosing an all girl’s floor (assuming that it is a he), moving to a dorm with locks in the bathroom, or potentially choosing not to attend BU, should you deem it “unsafe”. BU goes through many measures to ensure the safety of your child, and I fail to see the logic behind implementing the incredibly inconvenient policies policies you have suggested.

          • Frank on 02.24.2012 at 9:01 am

            Totally agree. The entire system shouldn’t be changed just because a few people out of thousands can’t control themselves. Let’s not forget the draconian changes that were made to the housing policy for over 15 years just because one or two students complained about their roommates having sex in the room while the roommate was there (I would have gotten some popcorn and enjoyed the show, actually, and I always thought it was amusing that BU tried its hardest to separate men and women without considering the unintended benefits of the policy to gay students like myself). But I still remember freshman year back in 1989 what I had to do just to have a female friend (platonic relationship, obviously) from Binghamtom U stay over for the weekend. After that, I was able to get brownstone housing for the next 3 years, including a single for 2 years in the Italian House. I don’t mean to compare being recorded while showering as the same situation, but extreme solutions are not required. Again, it gets to the ‘culture.’ These activities are glorified with people snapping photos of strangers on the T and posting it online or rating peoples’ looks.

    • lisa on 02.22.2012 at 3:22 pm

      Mo, I think you are spot on. In office environments it is common practice to have a keycard to use the facilities. I think it’s fairly simple to fix to the current ID — just code it to allow appropriate access. Chief Robbins, I think this is worth exploring. What are other large urban universities doing?

      • Warren Student on 02.23.2012 at 2:34 am

        Warren, as an old building, can in no way support the infrastructure required to implement the security precautions that people like Mo are suggesting. From an electrical engineering standpoint, the mass of new swipe systems and cameras along with the necessary data processing and storage equipment simply could not be supported on the current wiring system.
        It is an almost impossible task to rewire the entirety of Warren for it would be very invasive work requiring the shut down of the entire building, including the separate corporate stores that exist on the ground floor of Warren. something like that would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, possibly even millions to do. Adding in a secondary electrical system would be just as difficult and expensive. Doing this for all the dorms is just not feasible.

        The person/people who have been doing this could have easily been caught if people used common sense. If the phone is on the floor (which makes 0 sense for the record seeing how iPhones are not waterproof) you pick it up, not try to smash it with your foot. iPhone can be run over and the data stored inside can still be retrieved therefore, a foot would do nothing. Pick it up and viola, you have the persons phone and identity. He/she tries to get it back from you, you can scream for help and you can see their face. Punch the, or scrape their face and now you have a physical indicator.
        You see a phone underneath or above take a picture, open the door and use the curtain to hide yourself while you can catch a glimpse of the person leaving. A shirt color, height, male/female etc. That way, BUPD would actually have something to go off of.

        And you can see shadows approaching the door. If someone is there in front of the door, trust me, you can see it.

        A floormate once tried taking my clothes and towel while I was showering as a joke. I caught him with ease b/c I saw the shadows and I looked out the door to see the back of his head. It’s not rocket science people. BU does plenty to keep students safe but it’s the students themselves that lack the common sense to act upon the situation in a proper and logical manner.

        • Another Warren Student on 02.26.2012 at 1:31 pm

          You know, I’m glad you think you wouldn’t panic in a situation where you realized someone was trying to record you. But you weren’t there. There is no need to criticize the poor girl who was violated and injured for what she did in response to seeing the phone. I have a feeling someone was holding it and the police have misreported it.
          Just think about that before you shoot your mouth off next time.

  • Don Hungus on 02.22.2012 at 11:36 am

    james bond bathroom security

  • louise on 02.22.2012 at 11:43 am

    We had a groper in the library 30 years ago, who was getting away with it time after time until one girl nailed him. As soon as he did it she screamed “Groper is the guy in the red sweater! Groper is the guy in the read sweater!” He was immediately identified (and in this case, flattened by random library people). If the girls immediately screamed peeper! as soon as they saw the phone, perhaps they would catch him a bit faster. Small thing, but perhaps it would help??

    • Jean on 02.23.2012 at 1:01 pm

      newsflash: victim blaming isn’t cool.

      • JS on 02.26.2012 at 1:32 pm

        Exactly what I was thinking. Seems a lot of people here know exactly what they would have done in the situation this girl was put in, but I have a feeling very few have ever been there and are qualified to say such things.

  • tomandsarah on 02.22.2012 at 12:00 pm

    Voyeurs really irritate me but I think that in the world we live in this type of thing is next to impossible to combat. There is no such thing as privacy anymore, always assume there is a camera on you and you will be right more often than wrong. Just look at all the security cameras in CAS alone.

    The other side to this problem is the absurd degree to which nudity is sexualized in our society. I think that the proliferation of voyeurism is a result of our puritanical attitudes about nudity coupled with easy technology. I have taken many showers and believe me watching me scrub my armpits is no more sexy than when you do it yourself, man or woman. The taboo nature of nudity is the draw for these people.

    This type of behavior requires a social and cultural solution, not making dorms into prisons. And to the voyeurs out their, if you want to see naked men or women go to a strip club leave people trying to wash in peace!

    • Mo on 02.22.2012 at 2:41 pm

      Love it!

  • Barbara Brown on 02.22.2012 at 12:00 pm

    Why is it called merely “peeping”? We’re talking about a crime here; we’re talking about a naked woman being filmed against her will and her knowledge to be used for personal pleasure or even for profit. It’s closer to rape than to “peeping” which sounds more like children “peep” when they’re playing games.

    • A. on 02.22.2012 at 2:22 pm

      This is a very good point, Barbara. We’re not talking about peeping at all. We’re talking about the unlawful possession of an image or video-recording of a woman, taken without her consent in a private situation. Calling it peeping minimizes both the crime and the crime’s impact/potential impact on the young woman. I should hope BU chooses to use stronger, more accurate words to describe this incident and others of its type (though of course, I hope there are no more such crimes).

      • Mo on 02.22.2012 at 2:52 pm

        I agree. As tomandsarah said cameras are everywhere around BU, but why haven’t they found a way to protect female students in ALL the DORMS, not just in CAS and other random public spaces. Certainly Warren could use a tech update if not a total makeover. How pathetic that in this recent ‘peep’, the girl tried to stomp on the phone but instead CUT her foot on loose tile! I know it’s a right of passage to live in Warren, but definitely not worth the cost. If there were cameras by elevators or stairwells capturing date and time, maybe they would have caught this loser already.

        • JS on 02.22.2012 at 8:44 pm

          It does seem rather ridiculous to me that students pay 12,000+ a year to live a dorm as sadly outdated as Warren is.

        • Class of 2013 Student on 02.23.2012 at 9:33 am

          Mo,
          I am having trouble seeing increased security as the solution to the problems. Common sense is a much more valuable tool to learn. What will you do when your daughter moves off campus in junior or senior year and there are no more cameras? BU has a record of using security features to invade student privacy. What you propose would undoubtedly be used by BU to impose stricter and more costly measures on students.
          Consider the current meal plan requirement for students living in dorms. BU forces us to spend thousands of dollars a year on the basis that we are not responsible enough to feed ourselves without Aramark’s very expensive help.

          Consider also that statistically three incidents within 30,000 students is probably well beyond the population average.

    • Aaron L'Heureux on 02.22.2012 at 7:46 pm

      Peeping is simply an appropriate colloquialism for voyeurism. A number of states have laws specifically targeting video voyeurism, which to me makes the terminology appropriate. That said, it could stand to be more accurate, but on the same count, saying it is ‘closer to rape’ is the same mis-categorization on the other end of the scale.

      Here is the law in Massachusetts: http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartIV/TitleI/Chapter272/Section105

  • someone on 09.01.2012 at 1:01 pm

    Put signs up. just like on NY highway you have 55mph even though some drivers dont know it or forget it, driving at 65mph in other states. it will make a lot of diffirence. And another thing to notice , have proper privacy areas without peeping under the cubicle wall or over it possibilty. Sometimes sides of cublcles walls have gaps too.

    Yr so determinted to nail people and put them in jail. I see more phycological issue here than stealing.

    Rape is very big word to use here like i say transport. yr on a cycle going around the block or plane going going across the continent. there is so many diffirences with both forms of transport.

    peace. they all know its not good to peep, remind them again repeatedly. cellphones are tempting things to use. Becareful think future before buying yr cellph.

    So, I would insist on signs, cellph is something new, everybody using it and it must have its signs boards.

  • OH on 09.04.2012 at 12:37 pm

    HOPE THEY OPEN UP DORMS EXCLUSIVELY FOR MEN AND WOMEN.

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