A Boston College football player was charged Wednesday with illegally audiotaping a consensual sexual encounter between a fellow player and a female graduate student in a campus suite the players shared.
Jaryd Rudolph, a 19-year-old defensive tackle from Plympton, allegedly violated the state’s privacy and eavesdropping laws Feb. 15 when he recorded the episode on his cellphone and shared the tape with at least one BC teammate.
The female student filed a complaint with BC Police, and a clerk magistrate in Brighton District Court ruled after a closed-door hearing that there was sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal charge.
Rudolph, who pleaded not guilty at his arraignment, has been suspended from the football team. BC spokesman Jack Dunn said Rudolph also has been placed on university probation and ordered to undergo educational training and counseling.
The woman involved in the encounter said through her lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, that she was humiliated when other BC students teased her about the recording at her workplace.
“It was shocking for her to discover the audiotape existed and others knew about it,’’ Garabedian said. “It has been a humiliating experience for her.’’
Rudolph allegedly taped the encounter through a closed door in a dormitory suite on BC’s lower campus. He was released on personal recognizance on the condition he stays away from the woman. He has no criminal record.
The clerk magistrate heard evidence from BC police and others before issuing the charge. The state’s wiretapping law prohibits recording individuals without their knowledge or consent. The offense is punishable by up to 2 1/2 years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
“I don’t think a criminal charge was warranted, but that’s where the Boston College Police Department decided to take it,’’ Rudolph’s lawyer, John Seed, said. “We’re confident that when all the facts come out they will show that he shouldn’t have been charged.’’
Dunn said the matter was reviewed by administrators and “the actions of all involved were deemed inappropriate.’’
The female student is 24, her companion an 18-year-old freshman, according to a school source.
Garabedian lashed out at BC for characterizing the woman as acting inappropriately.
“That kind of statement is insensitive and shows a lack of understanding of the damage caused to my client,’’ he said. “It’s a weak attempt to divert attention from the [alleged] criminal act of the defendant.’’
The woman was working at Cityside Restaurant & Bar in Brighton, a popular nightspot for BC students, when she allegedly was teased about the recording. Her name and her partner’s have been redacted from court documents.
A BC source said Rudolph, a 6-foot-4-inch, 295-pound defensive tackle who starred at Silver Lake Regional High School, was upset about the noisiness of the sexual encounter when he decided to place his cellphone near his roommate’s door to audiotape the episode.
While some BC officials expressed surprise that the incident led to a criminal charge, Garabedian saw a parallel with a high-profile case at Rutgers University in which Dharun Ravi was convicted of 15 charges, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation (a hate crime), stemming from his web-streaming gay roommate Tyler Clementi’s sexual encounter. The 18-year-old Clementi committed suicide several days later by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.
Ravi’s conviction was seen as a powerful affirmation of privacy rights, particularly in the bedroom.
“Again, we have the use of technology with harmful intentions,’’ Garabedian said.
Annemarie McAvoy, an adjunct professor at Fordham Law School and former federal prosecutor, said the BC case serves as a reminder of the changing landscape in privacy rights amid the technology boom.
“It’s very different from the old-fashioned invasion of privacy,’’ she said. “We’re not talking about looking through peepholes anymore. All you have to do now is press record on your phone and leave it laying there and you’ve got it.’’
Young people in particular are accustomed to using their phones throughout the day for multiple purposes.
“I think this is a good lesson for parents to teach their children that just because you can do so many things with your phone, it doesn’t mean it’s OK to do all those things,’’ McAvoy said.
BC police told the court that Rudolph allegedly shared the audiotape with only his roommate. A school source said the tape since has been destroyed.
But the woman involved said she was teased by numerous BC students, including football and hockey players, who were aware of the tape.
“Once the genie is out of the bottle, it can never be put back in,’’ Garabedian said.
There have been numerous cases nationally in recent months involving individuals secretly recording bedroom encounters. In California, real estate tycoon Michael Lyon served a month in jail last year after he pleaded guilty to secretly videotaping his affairs. In Pennsylvania, Wayne Cripe was charged earlier this month with invasion of privacy for allegedly planting a listening device in his estranged wife’s bedroom.
Rudolph is due back in court April 17.Bob Hohler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.