An Anne Arundel County prosecutor and judge both used the word "mind-boggling" in court this week to describe what they called methodical and well-documented secret video recordings of 260 women by a Crofton man.
"It's the most far-reaching case I've ever seen," Assistant State's Attorney Kathleen Rogers told Judge Paul A. Hackner. "Frankly, I don't know how the defendant had time to hold down a job or even to sleep and eat because of the scope of his activities."
Rogers said the activities of 35-year-old Charles Dean Novak included learning the routines of some of the women he recorded, and returning to their homes to make multiple videos of them as they dressed and undressed in their bedrooms and showered in their bathrooms.
They included breaking into at least three homes as well as stealing lingerie, she said. And they included storing the videos of 260 women, keeping meticulous records of 243 of them, Rogers said, according to a recording of Novak's guilty plea and sentencing.
Some of the activities described by prosecutors dated back to 2008, but most were from last year until Dec. 27, when an officer in Crofton captured Novak with a minicam. Rogers said that when confronted about the thumbnails in the camera, he told police he had a sickness.
Novak pleaded guilty to three counts of burglary and seven of conducting visual surveillance with prurient interest. Other charges were dropped. Hackner sentenced Novak to serve 10 years in prison out of the maximum 47-year sentence, followed by five years of probation. He is to register as a sex offender.
There was so much video — 2,282 individual clips — that it took three detectives working five weeks to go through it to build cases for 20 women who didn't know they had been victimized until investigators showed up on their doorsteps, Rogers said. She called Novak a "professional voyeur," whose equipment allowed him to zoom in through tiny spaces and whose subjects are angry, embarrassed and frightened.
"He did it under my own nose," Jessica Dunaway, one of the women, said in court. Her blinds were down, "but it wasn't enough."
The center of Novak's activities appears to have been Crofton, where he took minicam videos of neighbors and his mother, according to the prosecutors' office. However, police could not identify the women in all of the videos;GPS on a camera helped them locate some victims.
Novak's lawyer Peter O'Neill, said the situation was sad for everyone, including Novak, whom he described as exhibiting obsessive-compulsive behavior and who did not socialize with other people.
"This became his relationship with women," O'Neill said. "This became his opportunity to be intimate with others, through the use of videotaping."
He said Novak meant no harm, but understands that he has caused harm. He, like Novak's mother, Marjorie Robling, said Novak needed mental health treatment, leading Hackner to recommend that prison officials evaluate Novak for help at Patuxent Institution.
In court, Novak apologized to his victims, saying he didn't intend to hurt anyone.
"All I can do is hope and the victims can and will get over this at some point in time," he said.