Former Davenport West High School teacher found guilty in invasion of privacy case
DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - A former Davenport West High School science teacher has been found guilty of secretly recording people in various stages of undress in his Bettendorf home.
Clinton R. Vanfossen, 61, will be sentenced Jan. 5 on five counts of invasion of privacy, one count each of preventing apprehension and obstructing justice and electronic or mechanical eavesdropping.
The first six counts are aggravated misdemeanors each punishable by two years in prison, while the eavesdropping charge is a serious misdemeanor.
A bench trial began Oct. 3 and lasted several days in Scott County District Court. District Court Judge Meghan Corbin filed a written ruling Monday.
The recordings were made between late December 2019 and early January 2020, court records show.
According to Corbin’s written ruling:
Bettendorf police received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
According to the tip, a computer hacker in France hacked into the cameras of a home in Bettendorf and reported what he believed were people being unknowingly filmed in intimate moments.
Officers went to the location of the reported cameras, which were in Vanfossen’s Bettendorf home.
Officers searched the home and found two purported smoke detectors that appeared to contain a camera. The first camera was found in the second-floor hallway and the second camera was found inside a family member’s bedroom.
Vanfossen, who was not at home at the time, later told an officer that he did not have any knowledge of the spy cameras or any recording device in the home.
An interview was set to take place on Jan. 8, 2020, at the police station but Vanfossen did not show up.
An officer contacted the manufacturer of the camera and learned that the camera had a small SD card located within the unit and a wireless stream to a computer or cell phone. The officer reported that a review of the SD card showed a clip of Vanfossen adjusting the camera using his cell phone in October 2019.
Several videos from inside one of the bedrooms showed a man and woman in various stages of nudity.
Officers returned to Vanfossen’s house on Jan. 8, 2020, with a search warrant. During the investigation, officers found a receipt for a new cell phone that Vanfossen bought that morning.
The newly purchased phone was the only one officers were able to recover from Vanfossen. Officers also removed and reviewed several computers from the home, according to the written ruling.
Vanfossen testified at trial that he became concerned for the safety of his family after seeing a trailer for the movie “Taken.”
Corbin noted in her ruling that it did not explain why the cameras were placed where they were in the home.
“The Court found Defendant to be very evasive during questioning, including when being questioned by his own attorney,” Corbin wrote in her written ruling. “Instead of answering the questions asked of him, Defendant would often cite scripture then provide the historical background behind the scripture. During cross-examination, Defendant got very defensive and at one point suggested that the real outrage was that someone hacked into his camera system and violated his privacy.”
The judge further wrote that Vanfossen installed the spy cameras in the family member’s bedroom “with the intent to gratify or arouse his own sexual desire.”
Vanfossen remains free on bond pending sentencing.
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