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Athletes Sue Over Hidden Cameras

July 27, 1999

CHICAGO (AP) _ Athletes at eight universities say they were secretly videotaped in locker rooms and the tapes were sold through Internet sites advertising ``hot younger dudes.″

Louis Goldstein, a lawyer representing the athletes in a lawsuit, said Tuesday he has eight tapes and he contends the practice of secretly taping athletes in locker rooms is widespread.

``There’s a whole industry,″ he said. ``They send people all over the country to do videotaping.″

The tapes, with names such as ``Straight Off the Mat″ and ``Voyeur Time,″ began to come to light in April, when the Chicago Tribune reported that hidden-camera videotapes, including footage taken during a 1995 wrestling tournament at Northwestern, were being marketed online and by mail.

Hidden-camera videos are also known to have been made at Illinois State, Eastern Illinois and the University of Pennsylvania, Goldstein said.

The lawsuit, filed Monday, alleges invasion of privacy, unlawful use of the plaintiffs’ images for monetary gain, and mail and wire fraud under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

The plaintiffs, who have been granted anonymity by the court, are described in the lawsuit as 28 ``John Does″ and ``unknown Illinois State University football players.″

The lawsuit says they are past or present athletes at Northwestern, Illinois, Illinois State, Eastern Illinois, Indiana, Penn, Iowa State and Michigan State. It names several companies, people and Internet service providers as defendants.

David Sobel, general counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, said the Communications Decency Act gives Internet service providers immunity from responsibility for what their customers put on their Web sites.

``I think the law goes a little further than it probably ought to in shielding ISP’s, particularly in cases where they have knowledge of what’s there,″ he said.

``It’s a little ironic in a case like this that it’s a law called the Communications Decency Act,″ he added.

Goldstein said it was time for the federal government to take action.

``The government’s got to realize they’ve allowed a Wild West to develop on the Internet,″ he said.

The Internet is full of sites offering secretly made videos, many claiming to have been made in women’s rest rooms or health club locker rooms. Others offer so-called ``upskirt″ or ``down blouse″ videos taken secretly but in public places.

Federal eavesdropping laws apply to videotaping, but Randall Samborn, spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Chicago, said he could not confirm or deny whether an investigation has begun.

The lawsuit names distributors Franco Productions, Rodco, Hidvidco, Hidvidco-Atlas, Video release, AMO Video, Logan Gaines Entertainment, D.I.Y./Triangle Video, Cal Video and TVRP; and Dan Franco, George Jachem, Logan Gaines, Alan Gould, Brad Theissen and Kevin Gleason.

Goldstein said Franco Productions was based in San Diego, Hidvidco in Boston and Logan Gaines Entertainment in Hawaii. Telephone listings could not be found for any of them.

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