Police Say Landlord Secretly Videotaped People In Bathrooms

By JOHN SEEWER, Associated Press Writer

GIBSONBURG, Ohio (AP) - A landlord secretly videotaped about 650 people showering and using the bathroom in their apartments and at his insurance office, police said.

James Rogers, a respected businessman around town who also supported youth sports, shot himself to death as police began searching his apartment.

Some people, including children, were videotaped at birthday parties in a room he would rent out for special occasions, said Police Chief Mike Benton.

"The whole thing has sickened every member of this organization," he said Friday.

Police say Rogers had been doing the taping since 1996, leaving residents in this northwest Ohio farming town of 2,500 wondering whether they are among those captured on video.

"People come in worried," said Carol Binder, who runs a bar and restaurant across the street from the insurance office. "Some are angry because they know they're on the tapes."

Police had been tipped off by a tenant who found a hole in his ceiling. They believe that Rogers had disguised a video camera to look like a smoke alarm.

Rogers, 55, killed himself while police searched a room of his apartment on Jan. 19.

Police had no idea how many people were videotaped until they had a chance to look through the piles of cassettes found in his apartment.

Benton said they have reviewed 237 videotapes. They also found video equipment and a computer in the apartment.

About 50 people have been told they are on the tapes, Benton said. The rest haven't been identified.

Rogers once was president of the local business owners group and helped organize go-kart races through the downtown streets.

He also sponsored youth baseball teams. Pictures and trophies still hang on the wall of his shuttered office. Two glass jars full of gumballs and candy are on the counter.

Rogers, whose legs had been amputated within the last three years, also operated a haunted house during Halloween in one of his vacant storefronts, neighbors recalled.

"It's kind of scary that he was around the kids," Binder said.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)