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Island festival incident leads to arrest on multiple felonies

By Staff | Apr 5, 2018

David R. Staver

A man with ties to a Sanibel-Captiva news source is facing three felony charges after he reportedly used a cell phone to take photos and video up a woman’s skirt during a recent island festival.

David Robert Staver, 67, of 4179 Fox Run Road, Vincennes, Indiana, was arrested and charged on April 3 with three counts of sex offense video voyeurism 19 years of age or older. Records state that he turned himself in on April 2 at the Lee County Jail after an arrest warrant was issued on March 30.

Staver has since been released on $15,000 bond. His next court appearance is set for May 7.

When contacted by phone, Staver declined to comment on the charges or allegations.

On March 1, Sanibel police responded to The Community House, where the Annual Sanibel Shell Festival was going on, about a man putting his phone under a younger female’s skirt and taking photos. Upon arrival, the responding officers located the alleged victim and man, later identified as Staver.

According to documents, Staver was wearing a Santiva Chronicle name tag. At the time, he was serving as the editor for the island news source and covering the event for an upcoming article.

The woman told police that she was walking around the festival with her two children and mother. When they stopped at a table containing sharks teeth, one caught her eye and she leaned over to look closer. As she did, her mother saw Staver put his phone under her skirt and appear to take a photo.

She said her mother immediately said something to Staver, at which point he quickly headed for the exit. They followed after him, yelling for someone to call the police. Once outside, a traffic aide at the crosswalk noticed the commotion and stopped Staver and the women until the police could respond.

The aide reported that while they waited, Staver “seemed sheepish and nervous” and was saying things under his breath. He was also “making a swiping motion” on his phone like he was “deleting things.”

Police also questioned the woman’s mother, who stated that she noticed Staver following them and taking pictures. Because he was wearing a name tag, she assumed that he worked for the festival. She said he remained “about two people behind them” and was always taking pictures in their direction.

The mother “felt he may be taking pictures of her daughter,” so she kept an eye on Staver. She said when they came to the sharks teeth table, her daughter leaned into it and Staver put a phone under her daughter’s skirt and took a photo. She immediately confronted him, but he denied it and walked off.

The mother added that the whole time they waited for police to arrive, Staver “had his phone in his hand and was making a wiping movement with his fingers which seemed like he was deleting things.”

Staver agreed to let police look at his phone, according to the documents.

Upon inspection, officers found photos from the festival in a recent picture album. Knowing how to access any recently deleted pictures through training, police located that album and “observed multiple pictures and videos of the victim.” The documents state that they start with the woman first arriving.

Police observed pictures of the victim from all angles, as well as zoomed in on certain areas.

Through training, officers were also able to locate recently deleted videos. They found a series of videos of Staver getting closer and closer to the victim, before finally taking a video under her skirt.

“Through my experience and training, I believe that David (Staver) has done this before due to the fact he did not appear nervous,” police wrote in the report. “He positioned the camera exactly where he needed it to be and knew exactly where he wanted it placed.”

Upon questioning, Staver reportedly told police that he took the pictures and videos but he did not know why. According to the documents, he could not help it because she “was so beautiful.”

Staver also reportedly said it was his first time.

His phone was seized and he was released from the scene while the investigation continued.

Back at the station, police noticed Staver’s phone had returned to the start-up screen.

“I examined the I Phone 6 and was able to identify that the I Phone 6 had been remotely wiped deleting all data, photos, videos, text messages and contacts from the phone and reset to the factory default,” police wrote. “The only person capable of completing that is the owner of the I Phone.”

A request was filed with Apple for Staver’s Cloud account.

The following day, a search warrant was executed at the home where Staver was living. His laptop, another cell phone, camera and other items were seized as evidence and for a forensic analysis.

According to the documents, police also found drug paraphernalia and marijuana in his room. Staver initially denied it was his. He also initially agreed to write a sworn statement, but he later refused.

Staver was issued a notice to appear for one count of possession of marijuana under 20 grams and provided a court date.

On March 20, police completed a forensic analysis of the contents on Staver’s computer.

“I observed hundreds to thousands of videos and pictures of up women’s skirts that David (Staver) had taken,” police wrote. “You know it is David (Staver) taking the picture/videos because his face is in them as he takes them.”

There was also video and photos of women in shorts and jeans, focused in on certain areas.

Police identified one victim in at least over 300 videos. According to documents, she was asked to come down to the police department the following day about the findings. When police revealed what they had found, they asked if she would like to prosecute. The women declined to file any charges.

A second victim identified in a video and photos was also contacted. She agreed to prosecute.

The woman also provided a sworn statement that Staver told her about the festival incident after she questioned him about a camera that she had been looking for. At a later time, the woman “heard David say that his son deleted everything from the computer located at his property in Vincennes, Indiana.”

In her statement, the victim told police that Staver “always had his cell phone in his hands and she never knew he was taking so many videos.” She stated that she could not believe that he was able to take videos of her and that she felt “violated and embarrassed.”

Samantha Syoen, spokeswoman for the State Attorney’s Office, confirmed the warrant.

“We approved the warrant request,” she said, noting that the SAO will decide which charges to officially file. “We will be reviewing the evidence for what charges are appropriate.”

For the separate drug charge, Staver has a court appearance on April 12.

The Santiva Chronicle did not immediately responded to phone calls or emails about the arrest.

Publisher Shannen Hayes reported via the news sources’ website that David Staver has resigned as editor of the Santiva Chronicle.

Staver’s information related to the position has been removed from the Chronicle website.