An escort who was allegedly secretly videotaped by Michael Lyon during a ménage-a-trois sex session at his Arden Park home in 2013 testified she had no idea she was being filmed as trial began this week in the video voyeurism case against the former Realtor.
Lyon faces 16 counts of electronic eavesdropping and using a hidden camera connected to the sex tapes shot from September 2013 to June 2014.
Prosecutors say the Sacramento businessman used his rented La Goleta Way home as a secret studio to spy on and videotape the women he hired for sex.
Sacramento jurors this week watched a hidden camera video allegedly shot in September 2013 by Lyon of his 70-minute sex session with the escorts – footage captured little more than two years after he pleaded guilty in Sacramento Superior Court to four eavesdropping counts for secretly filming house guests and nannies at his home.
“They didn’t know they were being recorded. They were younger. They were older. Some had been involved in escorting for a long time, others not,” prosecuting Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Mike Kane said Monday in a no-nonsense opening statement before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Robert Twiss. “All were recorded having conversations and having sex with the defendant.”
Lyon defense attorney Linda Parisi countered that the sex workers were interested not in protecting their privacy, but in shielding their criminal conduct as prostitutes while hoping for a fat payday against a wealthy businessman in civil court.
“Do you recognize this?” Kane asked the escort as the recording played showing a naked Lyon standing in a bedroom as a she enters the frame, nude, and climbs onto the bed to start their session. The recording appeared to be captured from a low angle several feet from the foot of the bed.
“It was our time together,” she said from the witness stand.
Lyon, who ran the hugely successful local realty enterprise that bears his name before a 2011 conviction on the exact charges he now faces seven years on, stoically watched the low-lit images on the courtroom’s projection screen.
The woman said she worked under the pseudonym “Roxy Rolls,” and was one of the two women Lyon hired at $200 each for sex that night on Sept. 27, 2013.
On the witness stand, she testified that she never would have consented to being filmed.
“Did you have any idea you were being videotaped?” Kane asked.
“No, I did not,” she answered. “I remembered (seeing) something that looked like a stereo, but nothing that looked like a camera.”
“I respect my privacy. I respect my face. I don’t want it shown anywhere,” she later told Kane. She said she didn’t know she had been recorded until Sacramento County District Attorney’s investigators called her in January 2015 – more than a year after the September 2013 session.
She testified that she brought an attorney to her Jan. 28, 2015, meeting with investigators in Sacramento, saying she was “scared she was going to get in trouble.”
But after she was assured prosecutors had no plans to file prostitution charges against her, fear turned to anger, she recalled, saying she wanted to “sue Lyon’s (expletive).” She later did file a civil suit in the case. She joins at least five others who have filed lawsuits against Lyon connected to the videos. Lyon agreed in a previous lawsuit to pay millions of dollars in damages to others including nannies and family members who claimed they were secretly recorded in the bedrooms and bathrooms of his homes.
Parisi pushed back against the prosecution’s case, asserting that the videos were “not created with an expectation of privacy,” that one of the escorts hired by Lyon filmed their sex acts for “leverage” against their wealthy client, and that a deal made between prosecutors and Lyon’s alleged victims looms over the case.
“This was sex that was bought and paid for. The evidence will show that they wanted to keep their criminal conduct confidential,” Parisi told jurors in her opening statement. “There is a ‘silent shadow’ over this case. Here’s the trade-off: You say you didn’t consent and we won’t charge you with prostitution,” Parisi continued. “It becomes another incentive to stay with the story. What comes next? ‘Can I sue him? I’ll own Lyon Realty.’ The intent they have here is a big payday against a wealthy man.”
Lyon was in the middle of an acrimonious divorce when the first case led to his arrest in November 2010 connected to allegations of secretly recording guests and nannies in bathrooms and other areas of his home.
He pleaded guilty in March 2011 to four counts of electronic eavesdropping and later spent 30 days in county confinement and another five months under house arrest.
Lyon found trouble again after missing a September 2014 meeting with Sacramento County probation officers.
Weeks later, on Oct. 1, 2014, probation officers searched Lyon’s home and seized “significant” amounts of evidence, Kane told jurors Monday, including videos, a hidden camera and other images that prosecutors said showed Lyon setting up cameras to film the intimate acts.
On Thursday, jurors viewed one of those videos, shot June 7, 2014, in a bedroom.
A man who appears to be Lyon, dressed in a white polo shirt and dark slacks, is partially visible in the frame as he adjusts the camera to capture a side view of his bed. His face comes into view before he places what appears to be a duffel bag in front of the lens.