Government

8 city employees sue Davenport over hidden camera

They claim city's supervision of former housing manager was missing

Roy DeWitt
Roy DeWitt

DAVENPORT — Eight city employees have filed a civil lawsuit alleging the city of Davenport neglected to properly supervise former housing program manager Roy DeWitt, who secretly recorded them while they were naked, saying they have endured severe mental and emotional distress because of his actions.

The lawsuit, filed this week in Scott County District Court, seeks restitution from the city for “permanent personal injuries,” including future medical expenses and mental suffering. The suit also says employees were “forced to identify themselves by only their private areas” to verify they were taped, saying the employees have suffered “an immense amount of emotional distress.”

In an emailed statement, Davenport city attorney Tom Warner said the allegations against the city are “just allegations” and the city disputes several of the statements made in the suit.

“While the underlying actions of Roy Dewitt are disturbing, they do not involve any negligence on the part of the city,” Warner said. “After discovering Roy Dewitt’s illegal activity, the city took prompt action to remove him from the workplace and terminate his employment.”

Catherine Cartee, attorney for the employees, said her clients believe DeWitt had no supervision, alleging his actions could have been uncovered sooner if someone had paid attention to him.

Asked if the employees were seeking a certain award from the city to make it right, Cartee said she does not know what that would be.

“What’s it worth to have over 17,000 images of your private parts God knows where?” she said. “I don’t know the amount. I guess we’ll let a jury decide that.”

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DeWitt, a longtime city employee, was fired in March shortly after police launched a criminal investigation to uncover details about a secret camera found by an employee in an office bathroom at the Heritage High Rise, a city-owned apartment complex for low-income residents.

Police later discovered DeWitt, 46, of Pella, had for months recorded eight employees — men and women — while they were fully or partially nude, according to arrest affidavits and court records. Investigators also found images of DeWitt masturbating on the camera.

In June, DeWitt pleaded guilty to eight misdemeanor counts of invasion of privacy, each of which carries up to two years of imprisonment. He was sentenced to serve the maximum penalty — 16 years. He later attempted to rescind his plea because he was unhappy with the punishment, a request the overseeing judge denied.

At his sentencing, several female victims described a duality they saw in their former boss’ character.

Before the discovery, they thought he was a decent guy who they trusted and considered a friend. But that was an “illusion” to conceal his “sick obsession and control,” one woman testified, saying DeWitt was keeping up appearances while he “stalked his prey.”

“Roy, you are a pathetic human being, and you deserve prison time for what you have done,” the woman said. “Because the life that I feel I have now is essentially a prison.”

DeWitt began his decadelong career with the city as a horticulture technician with the Davenport’s Parks Department. He also worked as a neighborhood services specialist before he took over management of the city’s public housing programs in 2014.

DeWitt is now at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center, a medium-security prison in Coralville that evaluates all Iowa male inmates before assigning them to prisons in the state system.

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