October 16, 2021
A jury in Lycoming County has awarded a couple $22,000 to resolve a lawsuit they filed against a former roommate of theirs when they attended Penn State University. The roommate allegedly had given the Centre County couple a DVD player that was equipped with a camera in order to secretly record them changing and having sex.
The former Penn State students all shared an apartment together in Ferguson Township in 2017 and had separate, private bedrooms.
In the lawsuit, the couple alleged that Nils Knutrud, who is originally from Massachusetts, had given them the Blu-Ray DVD player under the guise of a Christmas gift. He allegedly installed the device in the couple's bedroom and pointed it toward their bedroom.
Over the next several months, Knutrud, 31, allegedly borrowed the DVD several times and examined its contents, viewing dozens of audiovisual and still images of the couple in compromising positions, according to the lawsuit.
When the couple became suspicious of the DVD player, they disconnected it, but later found that Knutrud had plugged it back in and again pointed it at their bed, the plaintiffs claimed. They later inspected the DVD player and found Knutrud had installed a hidden camera, microphone and storage device inside..
In one of the recordings found on the device, Knutrud allegedly had filmed himself walking into the couple's bedroom and sniffing a pair of one of the plaintiffs' underwear. Knutrud also allegedly obtained 27 nude or partially nude photos of the same plaintiff by gaining unauthorized access to her Apple iCloud account.
When Knutrud's deception was discovered, he was arrested and prosecuted in Centre County on a misdemeanor invasion of privacy charge and a felony count of intercepting communications. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years of probation.
As court proceedings in the lawsuit unfolded over a two-year period, Knutrud's involvement diminished and he did not dispute any the material facts of the case. The plaintiffs were granted a summary judgment on a pair of claims, including what Chief U.S. Middle District Judge Matthew Brann called Knutrud's "blatant" intrusion of the plaintiffs' privacy and violation of the Federal Wiretap Act.
Brann approved the couple's federal and state claims in a 13-page memorandum last month, writing that Knutrud's conduct was so obvious as to "not merit extended discussion."
An attorney representing the plaintiffs told the Centre Daily Times that a jury awarded the couple $22,500 after about two hours of deliberation.