Connecticut’s Hammonasset State Park Privacy invasion

Very proud of my client Kim Smith who spoke publicly for the first time recently about a peeping incident three years ago at Hammonasset State Park. Kim and her two young daughters were showering undressed when she noticed someone watching her through a hole near the shower nozzle. Two state employees were later arrested for the crime. Kim felt compelled to open up about this occurrence after the latest privacy breach also at the park. Only July 5,2014 a hidden camera was found inside a bathhouse also at the campground where Kim and her daughters were violated. Kim is pushing for major policy changes to better protect people at state parks. She says what happened to her is not an isolated incident. She was very brave to share her story and warn everyone to pay attention while using State Park toilets and Shower facilities.

Here is one of the stories that aired on WFSB-TV, channel 3

 

 

Photo- Smith PResser

Kim Smith Statement:

I am Kim Smith. I am here today to tell my story, to break my silence, and tell the people of Connecticut what happened to me and my two young daughters while showering at Hammonasset State Park.

I am here now, three years after two park employees watched me shower with my two young daughters, because I can no longer be silent. My daughters and I were violated and victims of a crime. I was too embarrassed and humiliated to come forward and speak publicly about this at the time this happened. I did not want to expose myself or my children in the public eye because I wanted to protect them from this. But now, in light of recent developments at the park and the depositions I have read, I can no longer be quiet. The people of Connecticut need to know, when showering at a state park, proceed with caution.

On July 5, 2014, a camera was found inside the bathhouse at the campground at Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison. A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Environmental protection called this an isolated incident. This is what outrages me!

I am here today to tell you that is not an isolated incident. Just a fews weeks before this latest privacy breach at Hammonasset, my attorneys were deposing park managers. One testified under oath that no policies are in place to address privacy issues, peeping incidents and voyeurism at the state parks. I believe park managers lacked accountability and responsibility for what happened to me and things are still happening on their watch!

The park supervisor at the time, William Mattioli, testified that to his “knowledge” there have not been any policy changes or overall employee training at state parks in Connecticut regarding peeping incidents, how to better protect people at parks from voyeurism, and other privacy issues. You can find this testimony on page 94. We are releasing the transcript in its entirety. Also, on page 36 of his deposition, Mr. Mattioli testified that he doesn’t “specifically go looking for cameras” but he if “happened to see one,” he would “address it.”

I was hoping that since my incident three years ago also at a campground bathhouse at Hammonasset, that there would have been major policy changes at state parks, like limiting who has access to bathroom facilities and installing a security system to more closely monitor employees with access to bathhouses and bathrooms. I was hoping this would be the case. I learned during my fact-finding mission, I was wrong, and with this latest privacy breach, I see it is still happening today!

Here is what happened to me.

July 23, 2011, as I mentioned, we were camping at Hammonasset State Park. It was a hot day and my daughters and I just returned from the beach. I took them to shower at the bathhouse near our campsite–building number 3.

I got the girls into the stall, undressed them and myself and we started to shower. While we were showering, I noticed something strange through a hole at the shower faucet. There were shadows and movement and I noticed a light on that I did not notice when we started. I moved closer to look through the hole and that’s when I saw the outline of his face, his eyes staring back at me and his facial hair.

My heart sank and my stomach dropped to my toes. I quickly wrapped the girls in towels and we got out of there. I was shaking, mad, scared, humiliated, and of course, worried about my two young daughters who were three and six years-old at the time. I was trying to get out of the shower area to get our clothes on and came face to face with the man with the facial hair as he was coming out of the storage area that it is connected to the women’s bathroom. He was not alone. He was with another coworker. I was scared. I tried to rush us all into the bathroom stall to put our clothes on and then noticed the big hole around the toilet in the stall, my heart sank again. People need to know that there is a pipe chase behind the bathrooms and showers. This is where the employees gained access, through their storage facilities, to watch us shower though the holes that were allowed to be present for over a decade. To this day, this pipe chase area is not blocked off.

I wondered who would do such a thing? Watch women and children shower while undressed.

As I mentioned, it wasn’t just one man watching us but two–Ken Sabo and Brandon Marchant. The men actually worked for the park, that’s right, state employees who later confessed to the crime–and cut a plea deal with prosecutors. They were fired from their jobs, which is a start, but I believe park managers should have and could have done more to prevent this. And now, with another privacy breach in the news, I know not enough is being done to protect those in their most vulnerable state.

Sabo and Marchant were originally charged with breach of peace, since a camera wasn’t used. For the past three years, I have tried to pass new legislation that would make it voyeurism if someone peeped at children even if a camera wasn’t used. I have been unsuccessful on that front so far. But I will continue this fight to change the laws until something is done to protect our children. To protect all of us.

I have been trying to fight this quietly, but I can no longer do that anymore.

My case is before the state’s claims commissioner. I am trying to get answers as to how something like this could have happened to me and my daughters by two state employees at a state park. I honestly believe I was not the first person violated at that park. Who knows how many other unsuspecting women and children were watched unknowingly while showering or going to the bathroom.

Prior to leaving the park that awful day, something told me to take a look around. I walked to the bathrooms in our area and was horrified and disgusted to find that our bathhouse was not the only one with so many holes. A photographer by trade, I quickly grabbed my camera to document what I saw. I found many holes, near toilets, in shower stalls, everywhere, too many to count really. This was not an isolated problem. State workers saw these holes for nearly a decade and did nothing to fix them. In fact, one of the men who watched me in the shower claimed that workers knew where to go to watch women shower.

Despite these deplorable conditions which left my daughters and me vulnerable to the peeping incident which happened to us, Mr. Mattioli testified that both the head plumber (and maintenance supervisor) at Hammonasset were not disciplined for leaving all these holes in the women’s facilities. In fact, Mr. Mattioli testified that he doesn’t think the state should be held accountable for the actions of two employees, despite the fact that it was on his watch (and the state facility he managed) that these deplorable conditions were allowed and considered to be status quo.

Thomas Smith, the head of maintenance at the park, also testified that he had no formal training in maintenance. On page 55 of his deposition, Mr. Smith testified he never had any certification, licenses or continuing education provided by the state of Connecticut on how to better manage maintenance issues at state parks, yet, he was the person put in charge.

Since my incident, the holes in the walls have been fixed but this is not enough. It was only because I called police and filed a report that something finally changed.
I want to see new security measures in place like a digital swiping card which would keep track of employees whereabouts and who had access to what building and when. I would also like a door be put on the pipe chase area so that regular workers do not have access there.

What most people don’t realize is community service workers, who have been arrested for various things, also work at the park. Many of them work to clean the bathrooms and have access to maintenance keys to all bathhouses. This does not sit well with me.

After reading those depositions, I decided to release them to the public for no other reason than wanting the public to know. DEEP will probably tell you that I am doing this to further my case. That is the farthest thing from the truth. I am doing this to shed some light on an ongoing problem at state parks and to give people access to what I have learned. I did not want to come forward and publicize what happened to me, I have remained quiet for three years while fighting this fight. But now, with a hidden camera being found at a bathhouse at the same campsite, I see that this is still happening.

It has got to stop!

After reading those depositions of state park workers, I was angry, upset and confused because not one of them was willing to take responsibility for their facilities or their employees. They feel like they have no wrong doing here and they all stand by their word. I find it hard to believe that in the 10 plus years these holes were present and continued to grow, that no camper ever filed a complaint or wrote a comment card about them or that no worker ever mentioned the holes all over the bathrooms (and showers) at Hammonasset.

I want real change and real accountability to protect others. What happened to me is done, but I will use what I know to protect others in the future. To this day, this incident, this violation disturbs me. The moment I am in a situation where I need to use a public restroom, a changing room at the mall, or shower after using a public pool or gym, I remember what happened to me and my children. I panic. I search.

This is always in my mind.

Can’t stand up straight? You may have a broken back.

Too many women attribute a loss of height or a hunched upper back as an inevitable part of aging.  However, it has become clear that too many women are suffering needlessly.  The cause, many times, is a spinal fracture.  These fractures, most common in older women with osteoporosis, can lead to other fractures, compounding the likelihood of loss of height and a stooped posture.

Car accidents are likely to cause these compression fractures, yet they the injury is often not diagnosed.  This leaves the accident victim at serious risk for chronic back pain, immobility and even death.

What can be done about spinal fractures? Though common treatments include pain killers, braces, bed rest, physical therapy or major surgery, a new treatment is making waves.  Balloon kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive therapy during which a balloon is inserted into the fractured vertebrae.  The balloon is inflated until the bone height is restored.  Then cement is injected in the void created by the balloon, thereby strengthening the bone.

Doctors and patients alike are hopeful that the new procedure will help those suffering with spinal fractures return to a normal, active, pain free life.

The staff and attorneys at Glass, Lebovitz, Kasheta & Bren have seen the lives of too many Connecticut accident victims damaged by the long terms effects of an undiagnosed spinal fracture.  If you have been in an accident and suspect you may have a spinal fracture please see your doctor.

 

Read More About Can’t stand up straight? You may have a broken back….

Turkeys Play Chicken With Connecticut Drivers

Road hazards in Connecticut are not limited to potholes, slick roads and distracted drivers.  In the past few weeks wild turkeys have been responsible for at least two accidents.  Local auto glass technician, Jamie Page of Auto Glass Dynamics, sees an average of five windshields a year with turkey damage.  However, he believes that the turkeys can do more than just shatter windows.

“Oh yeah it can come right on your lap.  I’ve heard of people getting killed from it,” says Page.

Fortunately for Kristen Pechout, she was not injured during her recent car/turkey accident on I-95 in Groton, Conn.

“I didn’t think it was actually going to walk in the road, let alone take flight and hit my windshield,” Pechout stated.

Pechout was able to maintain control of her vehicle and get to the side of the road.  However, under the right conditions a driver could very well lose control of their vehicle and crash.  The last driver whose car was struck by a turkey had to be taken to the hospital and treated for injuries caused by the accident.

The staff and attorneys at Glass, Lebovitz, Kasheta & Bren have reported on the dangers of migrating deer, and now we must also be on the lookout for turkeys.  Keeping your eyes on the road and not allowing yourself to drive distracted may be the key to preventing the majority of accidents; turkey related or not.

 

Read More About Turkeys Play Chicken With Connecticut Drivers…

Workers Union Honors Connecticut Workplace Accident Victims

Groton, Connecticut is home to a memorial garden dedicated to those who have been killed or severely injured while on the job.  A major workers union, AFL-CIO, one of the largest in the nation, has designated April 28th as Workers’ Memorial Day.  This year members of the union joined friends and families in honoring Connecticut’s on the job accident victims.

Dennis Popp, Mayor of Groton, was on hand to offer sympathy and pay his respects.

“We remember those who have given their lives at work and those who didn’t come home or didn’t come home the way they left,” said Mayor Popp.

In one of the most violent work related incidents in Connecticut history, a disgruntled employee shot and killed eight workers at Hartford Distributors.  The gunfire wounded two others.  Just one month earlier two firefighters died while responding to a house fire in Bridgeport.

This year’s memorial garden ceremony honored the fallen workers and highlighted an important issue for Connecticut workers and the union.  Worker safety is incredibly important to both groups and many believe that increased safety legislation would help prevent on the job injuries and deaths.

The staff and attorneys of the workers compensation firm of Glass, Lebovitz, Kasheta & Bren would like to extend our deepest condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives on the job.

 

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Thank You, Connecticut Animal Control Officers!

Animal control officers in Connecticut do more than catch stay dogs.  In fact, they often risk their health and lives protecting both the public and neglected and abused animals.  Because of this, the National Animal Control Association has made a national effort to highlight the work these dedicated professionals do.

Though the week has passed there is no reason why the public cannot still act and thank their local officer.  In Connecticut, animal control officers  not only capture dangerous dogs and save starving horses, they also run shelters for abused and neglected animals that are part of a current investigation.  Their large animal rehabilitation facility is known for its superb care and treatment of the horses and other large animals who are housed there.

What can you do to show your appreciation?  The NACA suggests organizing a lunch event for local officers.  Other ideas include sending flowers, balloons, treats or cards to officers.  Anything you do to show you appreciate the work animal control officers do is welcome.

As a law firm that specializes in dog bites in Connecticut, the staff and attorneys of Glass, Lebovitz, Kasheta & Bren understand the crucial role animal control officers play in the prevention of dog attacks and the rescue of neglected and abused animals.  Please do your part- Thank an animal control officer today!

 

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Taking a Bite Out of Dog Attacks and Animal Cruelty in Connecticut

Knowledge is power.  Bridgeport, Conn. animal control officer Jimmy Gonzalez is one of many who work to inform and empower school children about dog bite prevention and animal cruelty.  Each time Gonzalez speaks with a class, roughly half of the students admit  that they have been bitten by a dog.  Yet only a few say that they have reported the bite to a parent or the authorities.  He also reports that too many children are exposed to animal cruelty, even dog fighting.

Because of this, Gonzales, along with legislators such as Rep. Brenda Kupchick, are asking that Connecticut develop a curriculum on the humane treatment of animals for public schools.  The curriculum would be aimed at not only recognizing and preventing animal cruelty, but also teach children how to avoid being bitten by a dog.

For example, Gonzales always asks classes what to do if you see an aggressive dog.  The answer is always the same.

“Every kid says it: ‘run,'” Gonzales said. “Even some of the teachers say it.”

However, this is the wrong answer.  The right thing to do is to be a tree.  This means standing very still, putting your hands on your chest and tilting your head down to avoid eye contact.  The vast majority of the time the dog will lose interest and walk away.

Only time will tell if the measure will pass and become part of Connecticut’s curriculum.  Until then, our dog bite attorneys urge you to speak with your children about how to avoid dog bites and prevent animal cruelty.  Doing so may very well prevent a serious dog bite or attack.

 

Read More About Taking a Bite Out of Dog Attacks and Animal Cruelty in Connecticut…

Driver Pleads Not Guilty in Fatal Hit and Run Accident in Hartford

March 16, 2011, Hartford, CT, – Ian Carter-Sullivan, the man accused of a fatal hit and run accident that killed a man last December, has pleaded not guilty, Courant.com has reported.

Carter-Sullivan announced his plea in Superior Court on March 15th. He is still in custody and his bail is set at $750,000. His next court date is scheduled for April 19th. Carter-Sullivan had been arraigned in Manchester, but his case was handed over to Part A in Hartford, which handles weighty felonies.

He was arrested on January 20th, for the car crash that occurred December 3rd in Glastonbury claiming the life of Christopher Blanchard, 43.

The hit and run accident happened near Route 2 on Hebron Avenue shortly before 8 p.m. Carter-Sullivan was driving his mother’s car, a Ford Taurus. According to the warrant, police said Carter-Sullivan stated that he took his eyes off the road to check the speedometer and when he looked up he saw someone. He then stated that he heard a noise when the collision occurred.

He reportedly told police that he regrets not stopping to offer assistance. Although Carter-Sullivan acknowledged hitting someone, he stated only a few details which did not include how he arrived at home so soon after the fatal hit and run accident. He did, however, recall that he had a panic attack once at home.

He contacted the police the next day, after he was made aware that Blanchard had died.

According to crash statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 223 fatalities in 2009 because of traffic accidents in Connecticut.

As a service to the residents of Connecticut, our firm will frequently publish blogs about local traffic accidents. We do this to raise awareness about the common types of motor vehicle accidents occurring in Connecticut that may result in serious injury or traffic fatalities.

Common accidents in Connecticut include, but are not limited to:
 

  • single-car accidents;
  • accidents caused by hazardous road conditions; and
  • accidents caused by distracted drivers or aggressive driving.

If you have been named in this blog posting or you are the victim’s family member or friend and would like it removed from our website, please feel free to contact us and we will promptly accommodate your request.

Canaan Man Dies After Pickup Truck Runs Off the Road in Torrington

March 16, 2011, Torrington, CT. – A Canaan man died on March 15th when his pickup truck ran off the road and crashed into a culvert in Torrington, Courant.com has reported.

According to police, the fatal pickup truck accident that claimed the life of 52-year-old Terrance Morgan occurred on South Main Street. He was the sole occupant in the 2002 Toyota Tacoma.

Police were notified of the single vehicle accident shortly after 7:30 a.m. Based on a preliminary investigation, they believe Morgan was driving northbound on South Main around Bogue Road. It’s possible that Morgan started veering left, although the road curves to the right.

Police said he went across the center line, crashed through guardrails, and slammed into the culvert. Authorities pronounced him dead at the accident scene. He had been wearing a seat belt and the pickup truck’s airbags had deployed.

It’s not known however how much time had passed before anyone noticed the single vehicle accident because the culvert is located underneath the roadway.

Anyone who has information pertaining to this fatal car accident is urged to call Torrington police: 860-489-2008 or 860-489-2070. The accident is still under investigation.

According to crash statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 223 fatalities in 2009 because of traffic accidents in Connecticut.

As a service to the residents of Connecticut, our firm will frequently publish blogs about local traffic accidents. We do this to raise awareness about the common types of motor vehicle accidents occurring in Connecticut that may result in serious injury or traffic fatalities.

Common accidents in Connecticut include, but are not limited to:

  • single-car accidents;
  • accidents caused by hazardous road conditions; and
  • accidents caused by distracted drivers or aggressive driving.

If you have been named in this blog posting, or you are the victim’s family member or friend and would like it removed from our website, please feel free to contact us and we will promptly accommodate your request.

Connecticut State Trooper Faces DUI Charge after I-84 Crash

March 23, 2011, Hartford, CT – A Connecticut police trooper faces drunk driving charges in connection with a DUI accident that occurred in February, Courant.com has reported.

According to published reports, 47-year-old Timothy Kradas, a lieutenant, had been suspended indefinitely after he apparently lost control of his patrol car and collided with a box truck while he was driving on Interstate 84.

On March 9, Kradas turned himself in at Troop H headquarters in Hartford, according to police. He was released on $2,500 bail and has a court appearance scheduled for March 28 in Manchester.

The state trooper’s arrest involves a DUI accident reported on February 2. Kradas was working that day, police said, when he was traveling east on I-84. His cruiser crashed into the box truck close to exit 59 and he suffered multiple injuries so severe he had to undergo surgery at Hartford Hospital.

Police who responded to the scene found empty beer cans littering the cruiser as well as a container with tomato juice and alcohol, sources said.

Kradas has been charged with driving under the influence, following too closely, littering, and not wearing a seatbelt.

The box truck driver, 61-year-old Lambert Williams of Dorchester, Massachusetts, was not injured and has not been charged in connection with the DUI accident.

According to crash statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 223 fatalities in 2009 because of traffic accidents in Connecticut.

As a service to the residents of Connecticut, our firm will frequently publish blogs about local traffic accidents. We do this to raise awareness about the common types of motor vehicle accidents occurring in Connecticut that may result in serious injury or traffic fatalities.

Common accidents in Connecticut include, but are not limited to:

  • single-car accidents;
  • accidents caused by hazardous road conditions; and
  • accidents caused by distracted drivers or aggressive driving. 

If you have been named in this blog posting or you are the victim’s family member or friend and would like it removed from our website, please feel free to contact us and we will promptly accommodate your request.

Fatal Head-On Collision in Guilford Kills 1, Injures 2 on Durham Road

March 10, 2011 – Guilford, CT – A fatal car accident on Durham Road on March 2 left one man dead and 2 others injured after a head-on collision.

WFSP Hartford News
 reports that a 35-year-old female driver was traveling northbound on Durham road late afternoon on Wednesday. She and her 14-year- old passenger were struck by a vehicle driven by John Murphy, 67. Murphy’s vehicle was traveling southbound at the time when it swerved into the northbound lane, striking the other vehicle head on.

All 3 vehicle occupants were taken to Yale New Haven Hospital where Murphy was pronounced dead. The female driver of the other vehicle was listed in critical condition while her younger passenger was treated for minor bumps and bruises. There is no word yet on whether or not charges will be filed as police are still investigating the cause of the fatal car accident.

Head-on collisions can result in serious, often fatal injuries that can lead to permanent disability and life-altering changes for your family. When you or a loved one has been injured or you have lost a loved one in a serious head-on collision you should speak with a Connecticut car accident attorney for help in filing a Connecticut personal injury claim.

You should not have to deal with the medical expenses and financial losses of a serious car accident alone. A Connecticut car accident attorney can help you file a Connecticut personal injury claim to seek the damages you are entitled to. This will allow you and your family to focus on recovery from this traumatic turn of events.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System there were 223 fatalities in 2009 as a result of vehicle accidents in Connecticut.

As a service to the residents of Rocky Hill and the surrounding areas, our firm will frequently publish blogs about local traffic accidents. We do this to raise awareness about the common types of motor vehicle accidents that occur in Connecticut that may result in serious injury or traffic fatalities.

Common accidents include, but are not limited to:
 
single-car accidents;

  • hit-and-run accidents;
  • accidents caused by hazardous road conditions; and
  • accidents caused by aggressive driving or distracted drivers.

If you have been named in this blog or you are the victim’s family member or friend and would like the blog removed from our website, please feel free to contact us and we will promptly accommodate your request.

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