Editor’s Note: All names of the victims have been changed to protect their identities.
Michael Lyon’s former friends and employees are talking exclusively to CBS13, following their civil case settlement. The $2.5 million settlement included an apology to his victims. Those victims also demanded that the settlement would not silence their stories.
The victims are choosing to keep their identities hidden, as they say they do not want to be defined as Michael Lyon victims.
CBS13’s Steve Large spoke to five of the eight plaintiffs, who wanted to tell their individual stories of betrayal together. CBS13 also tracked down Michael Lyon.
CBS13 investigators tried asking him about the friends he betrayed, but he ignored us and drove away.
“This man has betrayed us in all different, varying forms on a mass scale, and has done this like a trade, and he’s just perfected his trade better and better,” said Sam Doe.
“He really violated their trust and their privacy in a very perverted and pathetic way,” said attorney Bob Zimmerman.
When investigators served a search warrant at Lyon’s home, they pulled his computers out, but inside they also pulled the rug out from his floor, exposing a small hole. Lyon used it for wiring his hidden recording equipment; cameras were in clocks, closets, bathroom counters, and showers.
“My biggest fear is that there’ll be more victims, and he won’t stop,” said Sam Doe.
Lyon agreed to pay the members of a prominent social circle in Sacramento a $2.5 million settlement. As part of the deal, the plaintiffs demanded their stories would not be silenced.
“There was not any amount of money that would make me not talk,” said one victim.
Lyon recorded Suzanne using a hidden shower camera, as far back as 1986.
“This was entirely personal. It’s not like it’s a crime committed by someone who doesn’t know you,” said Suzanne. “This is someone who chooses to do this. In my case, the videotapes that were taken of me were labeled, and they were rated; and they were filed away.”
Jane didn’t know she was a victim until investigators told her they saw the proof.
“I said to them, ‘how in the world do you know it’s me?’ and they said, ‘well, your name is on the video with two stars by it,” said Jane Doe.
Sam Doe was recorded naked in a bathroom shortly after his 18th birthday.
“I feel that by speaking, with everybody now, we get to have this moment. It really makes a difference for me moving on with my life,” he said.
Only now, his old friends say there were some signs of Lyon’s voyeurism, like the day a package arrived at the home with hi-tech eyeglasses that could record video.
“I thought well, that’s unusual,” said Jane Doe. “I said, ‘well, why would you want those?’ ‘Oh well I can review documents, look through and review documents at the same time as I’m doing something else.’ I thought oh, okay, it’s a business thing; a business tactic. ”
Another sign was a guest bedroom’s unusually ugly flower arrangement.
“I did think when I looked at it, that’s odd, it was never there before. So the cameras were hidden,” said Jane Doe.
A year before this civil settlement was a criminal case. Lyon was convicted of four felony counts of secretly recording prostitutes having sex with him, and spent one month in jail.
Now, Lyon once again lives alongside many of his old friends and victims.
One victim say’s “it’s torture” running into him.
“I run into him probably once a week, and he’s very smug. I feel violated every time that I see him,” the victim said.
He is a man who was at the height of Sacramento society. Now people in his own community can’t help but cringe.
“It’s so pointed and it’s so personal what happened to each of us,” said Suzanne Doe.
He spent years taking secret pictures of his closest friends. Now it’s the picture of Lyon that’s suddenly becoming clear.
“He oozes charm when he wants to,” said Jane Doe. “He can turn it on and off; but most of all, it’s a game for him.”