DANBURY -- Just what would motivate a state prosecutor, married and making $129,000 a year, to risk it all by filming women's legs in the courtroom?
According to Michael Stern, a Brookfield psychologist who specializes in treating sexual addictions and deviations, such behavior is similar to substance addictions that activate the pleasure center of the brain, "where emotions override reason."
David Holzbach, 52, was fired Friday from his job in the Danbury State's Attorney's Office after an investigation that stemmed from an April 17 complaint filed by an unidentified woman. She said Holzbach was using a video spy pen "pointed in compromising angles toward females who are in the courtroom," according to a report released Tuesday by Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane.
Holzbach admitted setting up a video camera in his car to watch from his office as female staffers came to work, according to State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky.
The photography was mainly focused on the women's legs, Sedensky said.
Stern, who said he does not know Holzbach but has read media reports about the allegations, did not comment specifically about this case. But Stern said there could be several reasons why someone would be compelled to pursue such behavior, including sexual desire, secrecy or the thrill of doing something and not getting caught.
"It's the same reason why people who have the financial means shoplift," Stern said. "It's the thrill of doing something illegal and getting away with it."
While Holzbach's behavior has stained and probably ended his 24-year career as a prosecutor, there were no criminal charges filed.
Sedensky said the state voyeurism statute requires the activity to take place while the person being photographed or filmed "is not in plain view, and under circumstances where such other person has a reasonable expectation of privacy" to constitute a crime.
According to that definition, would it be possible for someone to legally take compromising pictures of women in public places?
"It's intrusive but its not criminal," said defense attorney Rich Meehan, whose practice is in Bridgeport. "If we started legislating what part of the body people can take pictures of in public, the courts would be full of lousy photographers."
In a public setting, Meehan said, there is no expectation of privacy.
And these days, with just about every cell phone having a camera and other technological advances, that could be an unsettling proposition.
"There is no limit to what you can do with cameras and recording devices," said Joe Ribeiro, a private investigator in the Danbury area. "There are cameras that you'll never know are there."
Recording devices can be hidden almost anything, from briefcases to pens, smoke detectors and walls, Ribeiro said.
"We can videotape everything going on in a room from just a pinhole in the wall," he said, "and that was technology that was available 20 years ago."
Danbury attorney James Diamond said the expectation of privacy is a community standard, and with more and more recording devices being turned on, "there are less and less places where you can reasonably believe you're private."
While Holzbach wasn't alleged to have taken "up-skirt" videos of women, Diamond said women can have the expectation that any body part that's covered is private.
"That's different, however, from someone lying on a beach in their bikini," he said. "You're in public in full view. It still might be very offensive conduct, and certainly women have the right to feel offended by being filmed, but what might offend may not necessarily be criminal."
However, said civil rights attorney John Williams of New Haven, "just because something isn't criminal, doesn't mean it's not illegal."
In the Holzbach case, he said, there are allegations that the conduct had been going on since 1992.
"What I found so shocking in this case is a pattern going, and prior incidents of Holzbach being reprimanded and women taking precautionary measures," Williams said. "Women in that courthouse were working in a sexually hostile environment."
That dynamic, he said, would violate the state's fair employment act and the 1964 federal Civil Rights Act.
"If any of these women filed complaints, the state would be on the hook for tons of money," Williams said. "And if there were any instances in the past six months, they could still file a complaint.
"I hope people pile on the lawsuits," Williams said, "because this is just so intolerable and outrageous."
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