EASTHAMPTON, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) – Easthampton firefighter Nicholas Tillman has been charged with secret sexual surveillance and unlawful secret recording. Tillman is accused of placing two secret cameras in the women’s locker room at the city’s fire station, leading to his arrest last week.
Western Mass News spoke with one firefighter and attorney from New England who shared why other firefighters need to be more aware of this type of problem.
Curt Varone is a firefighter of 50 years of experience and a licensed attorney of 37 years in both Rhode Island and Maine. He told Western Mass News that he started a blog called Fire Law to educate firefighters on legal challenges and difficulties that fire departments might face.
We spoke with Varone following the arrest of Easthampton firefighter Nicholas Tillman, who is accused of placing two secret cameras inside the women’s locker room in the Easthampton Fire Department. He now faces charges of secret sexual surveillance and unlawful secret recording.
Varone said that cases like Tillman’s are rare, but do happen as technology has advanced.
“We’re looking at something that, when I was a young firefighter, wasn’t really something that was feasible because the technology wasn’t there,” Varone said.
He added that he has developed his own personal database of cases involving firefighters dating back to 2008 and has found cases similar to Tillman’s.
“I got roughly 21 cases where male firefighters have utilized the technology to secretly record females in the firehouse,” he said. “So, point being, this is not an isolated situation, not a common situation.”
Varone told us that most fire stations typically have it written in their employee policy and procedures that this type of behavior is prohibited, but he believes firefighters should be on alert.
“There’s really two ways to approach the issue. One is to prohibit recording in the workplace, but also prohibit secret recordings of others without their knowledge, typically in places where they have an expectation of privacy,” Varone explained. “When it does happen, we have to have indications that fire service leaders and other firefighters, colleagues, have to be alert and recognize that it does happen.”
We did reach out to the Easthampton Fire Chief and the Easthampton Firefighters Union for comment, but have not yet heard back. Mayor Nicole LaChappelle told us that Tillman has been placed on administrative leave.
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