Dieter Spees, a former UD student, has been identified as the suspect in the case involving a hidden camera in Roesch Library. Photo courtesy of Pexels.
Hope Davis, Shea Donovan, Sarah Frazier & John French
The University of Dayton continues to deal with the discovery of a camera that had been hidden in a Roesch Library restroom almost 18 months ago.
Roesch Library is typically open every day, with limited exceptions, providing a welcoming place for students to gather, engage with one another and complete schoolwork. The safety of this space, however, was compromised on Oct. 28, 2019.
About one month later, on Nov. 20, 2019, UD students received an important message from Chief Rodney Chatman, former executive director of public safety at the university. The email, sent to faculty, staff and students, informed the university of an ongoing investigation regarding a hidden camera in a restroom of Roesch Library.
The camera was discovered by someone using the restroom. University police identified the individual suspected of placing the camera shortly after it was discovered, according to the message. A crucial part of the investigation, Chatman stated, was identifying the individuals whose images were recovered from the device.
“If you used that restroom between 9:30 and 10:45 p.m. on Oct. 28, please contact Public Safety Records at 937-229-2799 or firstname.lastname@example.org, to explore whether you may have been photographed and to be connected with on- and off-campus resources,” Chatman said in the letter.
The message acknowledged the impact of crimes of this nature and ensured the university that an extensive investigation would take place to ensure appropriate charges could be filed.
In the current state of technology, virtually every individual who has a mobile phone has access to cameras and other devices. This incident was noteworthy because of the fact that the university was able to identify and hold accountable the person responsible for the crime, explained Savalas Kidd, the current executive director of public safety and chief of police.
Accountability in this incident, however, does not prevent another incident of the same nature from occurring. As such, the university continues to emphasize the importance of situational awareness and alertness in their educational efforts and public safety messages, said Cilla Shindell, executive director of News and Communications at the university.
The suspect in this case has since been identified as Dieter Spees, a former UD student and member of the university’s cheerleading squad. Efforts to contact Spees were unsuccessful. Contact information for him, found in court records, proved to be insufficient.
Spees was convicted on two counts of possession of criminal tools and one count of voyeurism and was ordered to serve 180 days of local incarceration. He was also sentenced to five years of intensive probation supervision with a sex offender specialist and has been designated a Tier I sex offender.
As a Tier I sex offender, Spees will be required to register his address annually for 15 years and is prohibited from living within 1,000 feet of school premises, according to Greg Flannagan, public information officer for county Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr.
Furthermore, Spees was prohibited from having access to a computer and to any device with internet capability. He was also prohibited from owning and using handheld devices with audio and video capability, including a cell phone, Flannagan said.
The case, State of Ohio vs. Dieter Spees, was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to some extent. According to Flannagan, the only significant impact was on how county Common Pleas Judge Mary Katherine Huffman allowed the 180 days of local incarceration to be served.
“At the time of sentencing, there was a grave concern about the state of COVID-19 cases within Montgomery County Jail,” Flannagan said.
Because of these concerns, Spees was placed on electronic home detention until it was presumed safe to begin serving incarceration. He received jail time credit while on house arrest.
Spees was incarcerated in Montgomery County Jail from Sept. 11, 2020 through Nov. 25, 2020. At this time, COVID-19 concerns were again critical, and Spees was permitted to serve the remainder of his sentence on house arrest, according to Montgomery County court records.
Spees’ local incarceration sentence ended on Dec. 18, 2020. He is still on probation, with a projected end date of June 22, 2025. Failure to comply with the terms of probation could lead to an additional year in jail, Flannagan said. Attempts to reach Spees’ probation officer were unsuccessful.
As promised in the initial message from Chatman, the university conducted an extensive investigation into this case, which included hiring a specialized cybersecurity consultant. Records related to security matters are exempted from disclosure, Shindell said, and could not be released.
According to a June 2020 update from Kidd, six individuals came forward and were positively identified. The images gathered as evidence are protected under Ohio law and cannot be released.
The University of Dayton is committed to ensuring another incident of this nature does not occur on its campus. Intensive investigation alongside swift prosecution can be a highly effective deterrent, Shindell said.