April 25, 2005

Church Pleads Guilty

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David A. Church, the landlord accused of secretly filming his female tenants, pleaded guilty Friday to 10 counts of second degree unlawful surveillance, a class E felony. His trial was to start next week.

Church admitted to filming female tenants of properties he owned on E. Yates Street, University Avenue and N. Cayuga Street. All of the tenants were students of Ithaca College and Cornell.

According to a press release from the district attorney’s office, “one of the tenants noticed a glint off a small lens embedded in the baseboard of her bathroom.”

According to an Ithaca Journal article, the prosecution did not offer a plea bargain, meaning that Church is not entitled to a lesser sentence in exchange for his plea.

Although he could serve up to four years in state prison for each count, according to the press release, “no incarceration is mandatory for the crimes.”

Church was originally arrested in August, admitting to the police that he had placed video surveillance cameras in his properties. He was arraigned on additional charges in September and indicted by a grand jury in November.

“The one thing I would say is that I am very regretful for the situation that happened,” Church told the Ithaca Journal. “I decided to do this not to humiliate the girls any further.”

“I hope that this will provide some kind of relief, comfort and closure to the people against which this was perpetrated,’ said Simeon Moss, Cornell press relations office director. “It was an awful situation for them.”

Church has also been accused of continuing to rent his properties while misleading prospective tenants. Five Cornell students appeared in small claims court this month seeking a return of their $2,400 security deposit.

He will be sentenced on May 31 at 1:30 p.m.

Archived article by Sun Staff