IOWA CITY — The man accused of secretly recording a woman as she showered in a Burge Hall bathroom committed at least one earlier burglary, allowing him to record at least two more women.
According to criminal complaints for three different incidents, Robert Hightower broke into at least two dorm rooms and recorded at least three women as they showered, amassing seven different video clips.
According to criminal complaints filed by the UI Department of Public Safety, the 23-year-old Hightower — who is not a UI student or affiliated with the university — told police he entered women’s bathrooms in the residence hall Feb. 12 and 13. Each time, he said he recorded a woman showering.
The complaints state that around 6:18 a.m. Feb. 12, Hightower entered a women’s restroom on the fourth floor of Burge. Once inside, Hightower recorded a woman as she showered, police said. Hightower admitted to police he recorded the woman showering and willingly showed an investigator three video clips on his cellphone, police said.
Hightower returned to Burge around 10 a.m. Feb. 13, this time entering a different bathroom, police said.
Authorities said they searched Hightower’s phone on a warrant and found two videos of a woman showering.
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Police said sometime during the late evening of Feb. 14 or early morning of Feb. 15, Hightower entered a fifth floor Burge dorm room, found a card wallet and key ring and took a bathroom key. Hightower returned to Burge the evening of Feb. 15, entered a fifth-floor women’s bathroom and recorded a woman while she was showering, police said. The woman confronted Hightower and he ran, police said.
Later that night, while taking a report on the earlier incident, an officer was told of suspicious activity in a women’s restroom. Hightower was found hiding inside, but escaped after a struggle with the officer.
According to a search warrant affidavit filed Feb. 19 by a UI detective, Hightower was arrested on warrants for peeping and trespass from the Coralville police on Feb. 16. He was brought back to the UI Police Department for questioning in the Feb. 15 invasion of privacy case, the affidavit states.
“Hightower admitted to me he filmed two girls at Burge Hall with his cellphone while they showered without their knowledge,” the affidavit states.
Hightower told the investigator he committed two burglaries at Burge Hall by going into two different dorm rooms and stealing bathroom keys. One of the keys has not been recovered.
“Hightower told me he lost one of the bathroom keys, but gave me one of the keys from his coat pocket,” the warrant states. “And I located a pros card for the Currier Hall Computer Lab in his wallet.”
It is unclear when the second burglary mentioned in the warrant occurred. According to Johnson County Jail records, Hightower has been charged with just one count of third-degree burglary. It is also unclear how Hightower gained access to the Currier Hall computer lab proximity card cited in the warrant.
Also, each bathroom has its own key — meaning Hightower potentially stole three keys.
Interim UI Public Safety Director Dave Visin referred questions about the proximity card to UI housing services. Visin did say UI officials are also determining whether the card was activated.
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Von Stange, Assistant Vice President of Student Life and Senior Director of Housing and Dining, said the proximity card would not get Hightower into any living areas.
“It would only give him access to that lab,” Stange said.
University officials previously told The Gazette Hightower entered Burge with an acquaintance who was a resident. Stange on Tuesday confirmed officials have met with the student, but said federal student privacy laws prevent him from discussing the details of that conversation and any outcomes.
Main doors to residence hall lobbies remain unlocked until midnight, but access to student living areas requires a security card and all women’s restrooms have been locked for more than a decade. The university said they would it would change the locks on the bathrooms involved in these incidents.
Hightower remains in custody.