A former New York nanny is fighting back after she says she was surreptitiously recorded in a bathroom owned by a powerful and well-connected couple, the New York Post reports.
Vanessa Rivas alleges she found a spycam inside the guest bathroom of the apartment where she used to work as a nanny, a place where she often showered. Rivas is now suing her former employers, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Lauren Angelo Seltzer and her husband Matthew Seltzer, for invasion of privacy.
The suit comes after Rivas says law enforcement and prosecutors have been slow to act on the case — and that the Seltzers abused their power in an effort to make the problem go away. Rivas, 23, was watching the couple’s three children four days per week when she first spotted the spycam in January 2018. She used the bathroom’s shower after taking the kids to swim class.
Rivas said the device looked like an iPhone charger but had an unusual glare. So she pulled it out of the socket and, after realizing what it was, removed the memory card.
“I felt humiliated. … I showered there multiple times. It was my second semester of swimming,” Rivas told the Post. “It hurt. I felt betrayed.”
Rivas confronted Lauren Angelo Seltzer, but she denied knowing anything about the device, even though Rivas says she had noticed surveillance camera boxes in the residence previously. After Rivas left the apartment, Seltzer and her husband called and texted her numerous times in an effort to get the memory card.
“Matt and I would never ever, ever do this and I have no idea how or why you would think we would, so we need that chip,” Seltzer wrote to Rivas in one of the text messages. “I want to think that one of the workers left it here by mistake.”
The following day, Rivas and her mom dropped off the Seltzers’ keys. Waiting for them were two NYPD officers who demanded that Rivas return the memory chip.
“She’s just like ‘Give me the chip. We’re going to take care of it.’ And I was just like, ‘I’m not going to give you the only piece of evidence I have,’” Rivas said.
According to Rivas, one of the officers threatened to arrest her for having stolen property.
“I said, ‘You know what? Arrest me,’” Rivas said. “Then at that point, he looked at her like, ‘Oh, she called our bluff.’”
Rivas proceeded to a NYPD precinct, where she filed a complaint against Seltzer and turned in the chip. She had already downloaded the footage, which indicated that it was activated 15 minutes before her shift started, when Seltzer and her children were the only people in the apartment.
Seltzer later made her own complaint, but then dropped it a week later. Around this time, Seltzer’s mother, former Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Eileen Koretz, called Rivas and vaguely suggested a pay-off under the stipulation that she sign a document to “end this.”
Rivas declined the offer.
She told the Post she is upset that a year has passed without any criminal charges being filed, which is why she brought her own lawsuit earlier this month.
“It shouldn’t be allowed — for someone to do something like this — and people taking advantage of their position, their power, their connections. That’s what I don’t like.”
Manhattan DA spokeswoman Emily Tuttle said Rivas’ case was transferred to the Brooklyn DA so there “would be no appearance of a conflict of interest.”
Brooklyn DA spokesman Oren Yaniv told the newspaper that Rivas’ complaint is “under an active investigation.”
Rivas’ lawyers are skeptical of that claim.
“There are a lot of Peeping Toms in the world,” said Vincent White, one of Rivas’ attorneys. “The issue here is not only is there a Peeping Tom involved, but there is an abuse of power, which we find more concerning than the average pervert, frankly.”
[Feature Photo: Pixabay]