Man on trial for allegedly recording stealth video in Dalton restroom
PITTSFIELD — It will soon be up to jurors to decide whether a man secretly video recorded about 18 people, mostly women, while they used a public restroom in a Dalton park in fall 2014.
Nine witnesses who testified Wednesday in the trial of Sam C. Wassilie all watched video clips in court of themselves or their children using the facilities and agreed that they were unaware that they were being recorded and did not give consent for those recordings to be made.
One of the children recorded was 4 years old at the time.
Wassilie, 39, who had addresses in New York and Pittsfield, has pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of photographing an unsuspecting nude person and photographing the sexual parts of a child.
Testimony in his trial ended Wednesday in Berkshire Superior Court after the prosecution and defense rested their respective cases.
Wassilie's attorney, Edmund St. John III, rested his case without calling any witnesses and without putting Wassilie on the stand.
According to court testimony, Wassilie came to the attention of local authorities in October 2015, after a cellphone was discovered in a public restroom in New York state and turned over to police.
The phone was wrapped in paper towel with its lens exposed. An examination of the phone found a recording of footage from inside that restroom, and Wassilie was identified as the phone's owner.
Wassilie was interviewed by New York State Police and, at first, said his phone had been lost, but then admitted he had placed the phone in the restroom and set it to record.
Police also obtained search warrants for Wassilie's home and laptop computer, which was sent to a New York crime lab for forensic examination.
Two videos were apparently found on that laptop, copies of which were sent to New York State Police.
The videos each were about 20 minutes long, and each showed about nine people using a restroom.
Based on visual cues in the videos, namely people wearing clothing identifying youth football teams from Pittsfield and Dalton, it was determined that the video was shot in that area.
A check with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles also showed that Wassilie has a Massachusetts license and a Pittsfield address.
Deanna Strout, a sexual assault investigator with Dalton Police, was contacted and provided with copies of the videos.
Strout identified about eight of the people in those videos through her personal experience, and she contacted them.
Based on information in the videos, Strout determined that they were likely made in September or October 2014 at Pinegrove Park, because that is where and when those two teams played against each other that season.
In the beginning of one of the videos, a white man can be seen apparently preparing a camera or other recording device and placing it across from the commode in one of the restrooms.
Witnesses who know Wassilie identified him as the man whose image was captured in that video.
The jury, comprising eight women and four men, is expected to hear closing arguments when court resumes Thursday and will then begin its deliberations.
Bob Dunn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.
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