CERES (CBS13) – A Ceres man accused of secretly recording a woman who stayed at his Airbnb listing and using a false identity to contact her on Facebook was indicted by a federal grand jury for cyberstalking, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott said in a news release on Friday.
Kevin James Strutz, 49, allegedly made a secret video recording of the woman and captured images of her exiting the shower during her stay back in February.
The woman ended her stay after discovering a message on a cellphone Strutz left in a shared bathroom and she was contacted by the host through multiple Facebook accounts, including one with a false identity, over the next several months, according to Scott, who works in the Department of Justice Eastern District of California.
Neighbor, Candice Crosswhite, said she saw FBI agents surround Strutz house last week.
“I heard “open up, open up’ and loud banging so I got up to my window and I saw all cops at the house,” she said.
Crosswhite said she has been concerned with activity from the house throughout the years.
“It makes me a little uneasy. I knew something was going on. There is a lot of traffic at that house. We figured something was going on but I do have small children and it does make me a little uneasy,” Crosswhite said.
According to court documents, Strutz began harassing the victim through Facebook Messenger as soon as she left the Airbnb – which is a residence on Soda Canyon Drive where Strutz lives with his mother, Cynthia Earl.
An Airbnb spokesperson issued a statement on the matter, saying:
“We have no tolerance for the reported behavior and worked quickly to support the survivor once she brought it to our attention, including banning the associated host accounts from our platform at the time. We assisted the FBI in their investigation and hope justice is appropriately served.”
Messages from Strutz became more aggressive until he threatened to send the nude photo of the victim exiting the shower to her family and friends unless she sent him a sexually explicit video, authorities said.
Court records show in one message Strutz said; “Now I’m gonna send the nude pics u sent me of u getting in the shower to all yer contacts.”
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The victim is an occupational therapist and was working on the road at the time she rented a room in the Airbnb, court records show. She and a separate guest were booked into individual rooms while Strutz and Earl were both living there.
Strutz admitted to law enforcement that he had sent the messages. Court records say he told authorities he did it to “demean” her. Strutz claims he has never done anything like this to previous Airbnb guests.
This is not his first run-in with the law. According to the FBI, from 1991 to 2018 he had been arrested for stalking, possession of controlled substances, vehicle theft, robbery, trespassing, burglary, and assault with a deadly weapon.
Tori Hansford was 16 when she claims Strutz started stalking her.
“I was 16 and he was 45. That’s weird, he is the same age as my dad,” she said.
Hansford filed a restraining order against him two years later when she turned 18.
“I started getting this weird notes on my car and my parents confronted him and he didn’t stop for two years,” she said.
Hansford said he would write various different things in his notes for her to read.
“I have money, I’m going to take you away, I’ll put you up, I’ll get you a new car, I’ll get you your own place, don’t tell your parents,” she explained.
According to authorities, the Airbnb victim shared a bathroom and kitchen with the mother and son. However, the victim said she hardly interacted with Strutz and never learned his name until he contacted her on Facebook after she had already checked out.
Strutz faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 if convicted.