The Legal Aid attorney who secretly videotaped his female colleagues while they changed clothes pleaded guilty yesterday to unlawful surveillance. Peter Barta, a Stuyvesant High debater and Georgetown Law graduate, attempted to have the felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor, saying in a letter, "I'm not asking for forgiveness, but an opportunity to earn it." He also said his behavior was "creepy, disrespectful, juvenile and stupid," and wrote, "I offer no excuse or justification for my action. My behavior was inexcusable."
Female Legal Aid attorneys regularly changed into work clothes for court in their offices. Bartaplaced a clock with a motion-activated camera (from the Sharper Image) into their offices; the camera was undetected until one colleague inspected the clock and found the digital memory card. When police raided his Queens apartment (that he shares with his mother), they found a collection of porn and gag gifts, like "Grow a Girlfriend" and "Hanz Off Anti-Masturbation Gum."
The judge didn't reduce the crime to a misdemeanor, but Barta did get a plea deal with a year of probation and weekly counseling. He also lost his license to practice law.