Student punished for webcam misuse
Roomate's privacy invaded during sexual intercourse
Published: Tuesday, November 26, 2002
Updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 20:07
An OSU student was convicted for invasion of privacy last year after he broadcast images across the Internet of his roommate and his roommate's girlfriend engaged in sexual intercourse.
Anthony Scala, a junior in engineering, used a webcam attached to his laptop computer to stream the images over OSU's ethernet service multiple times. The pair was engaged in sexual intercourse in their dorm room during the broadcasts.
Scala was charged with two counts of invasion of privacy, both misdemeanors, after the images were removed from his OSU website and posted on the website of an East Coast man. One count was diverted.
According to court documents, the site accumulated thousands of hits per day for the two weeks it was up between April 1, 2001 and April 30, 2001.
Scala was taken aback by what he felt was a harsh punishment, adding that for the most part, those he's spoken to about the incidents have considered it a kind of prank.
"The DA didn't consider it a college prank," he said.
But Scala, who said this is the first time he's ever been in trouble with the law, regrets his actions.
"I didn't know this was a crime," he said.
According to ORS 163.700, invasion of personal privacy includes a person knowingly making a photograph, motion picture, videotape, or other visual recording of another person in a state of nudity without the consent of the person recorded. In addition, at the time the recording is made, the person being recorded is in a place and circumstances where the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Invasion of privacy is a class A misdemeanor, carrying a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Advances in Internet and surveillance technology have opened the door for many crimes against privacy -- some still yet to be defined. Scala's case was new to OSU and the Corvallis community, and he's likely not the only student unaware of privacy laws.
"It was an unprecedented case in Corvallis," said Patricia Lacy, ASOSU legal advocate for students. "The court had not dealt with this particular crime before, there was no precedent."
Scott Heiser, Benton County district attorney, agreed.
"I can't think of a case like this in Benton County in the last 13 years," he said.
So far the repercussions of the charges have cost Scala nearly $3,000, his grades have dropped and he's spent time in jail.
Scala and former OSU student Christen Sampson, who was aware of the act, were initially cited for disseminating obscene material. That charge, however, was subsequently dropped. Sampson was also charged with invasion of privacy.
As part of their sentencing the two were required to purchase full-page advertisements in The Daily Barometer, which cost upwards of $700, describing the crime of invasion of privacy and the possible repercussions of their actions.
"It was quite an unusual pretrial diversion," Lacy said.
In addition, Scala was required to apologize in writing to both victims, pay all of his court costs and spend nine months on probation. He must commit no crimes while on probation, have no contact with the victims and pay $100 restitution to each of the victims. Scala also had to perform 80 hours of community service, spend eight days in jail and serve 10 days on a work crew.
Heiser said he doesn't anticipate having to implement new laws to keep up with advancing technology.
"The statutes on the books right now are well written and likely to be able to address foreseeable conduct associated with current technology," he said.
Schellene Clendenin is the city editor at The Daily Barometer. She can be reached at 737-2231 or at email@example.com.