IOWA CITY, Iowa -- An Iowa City landlord accused of spying on his tenants will face a criminal trial in September, followed by civil trials next year for invasion of privacy lawsuits.

The criminal trial of Elwyn G. Miller, 63, was postponed Friday until Sept. 24. The final pretrial conference is Sept. 20 in Johnson County District Court.

Miller faces 11 charges of invasion of privacy involving nudity based on allegations he spied on tenants through peepholes he installed in their apartments.

Miller was arrested in November after a woman told police she caught him watching her shower, according to criminal complaints. Upon further investigation, police accused Miller of spying on tenants between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31 in at least one of his apartment buildings – 639 Lucas St.

“We send our kid down to the state university where you think they will be safe from creeps like that and then someone is spying on them,” said Joseph LaPointe, of Mason City, who filed a lawsuit in March on behalf of his daughter, Ruth LaPointe, and two of her friends, who lived at another apartment owned by Miller.

Ruth LaPointe, a liberal arts student slated to graduate in December, had been living at 639 Lucas St., Apt. 4, for several months when she learned her landlord had been accused of spying on his tenants while they bathed and used the restroom.

“She said he was a nice guy who came around a lot,” Joseph LaPointe said of his daughter. “Now we know why.”

The suit filed by Ruth LaPointe, Jordan Horton and Elijah McNeish, who lived at 1024 E. Burlington St., says the students suffered severe emotional distress as well as “psychological trauma, inability to sleep at night, paranoia, mistrust of men, medical bills, moving expenses and other out-of-pocket expenses.”

Another lawsuit was filed May 23 by Jane Doe, who caught Miller Oct. 31 peeping through a hole he had previously installed in the ceiling of her shower in her apartment at 639 S. Lucas St., the suit states. The unnamed woman called the police that day, leading to Miller’s arrest on invasion of privacy charges.

Criminal convictions require proof beyond a reasonable doubt, while civil cases have a lower standard of preponderance of the evidence.

The LaPointe civil trial has been set for Oct. 14, 2014.
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