Martial arts studio owner busted on voyeurism

Published: Saturday, May 30, 2009
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

GUILFORD — Police have charged the owner of the United Studios of Self Defense martial arts academy on the Boston Post Road with allegedly videotaping an employee and an underage student while they were undressed.

Joseph Moscatelli, 43, was charged Thursday night with two counts of voyeurism and one count of risk of injury/impairing the morals of a minor, according to police.

Moscatelli also owns the United Studios of Self Defense on North Main Street in Branford, police said. Branford police have been informed of the investigation.

Guilford police responded to a complaint about possible voyeurism at the martial arts studio at about 9:30 p.m. Thursday, police said. Sgt. Robert Norman said an employee at the business found a DVD that included footage of one female employee and one female student under the age of 16 undressing in a back room of the studio.

The owner was not at the academy at the time, and employees called police. Norman said investigators seized evidence including computer and recording equipment.

It did not appear the recording had been made for security purposes, Norman said. State law defines voyeurism as when someone maliciously and knowingly records the image of another person while the victim is not in plain view, and is somewhere he or she would have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Norman said police are still reviewing the recording and investigating whether any other employees or students were involved.

“We’re basically urging anyone who has additional information to call our detectives,” he said.

Neither the Guilford nor Branford police departments have received complaints about Moscatelli or the United Studios of Self Defense, Norman said.

Moscatelli could not be reached for comment Friday. There was no answer at his home telephone number and a handwritten sign posted at his Guilford business said it would be “closed until further notice.” He was released on a promise to appear June 9 in Superior Court in New Haven.

The Branford studio was also closed Friday, but it was unclear for how long. Norman said Guilford police did not have anything to do with the Guilford studio’s closure.

The United Studios of Self Defense is a national franchise with schools in 17 states, according to its Web site. A call to the program’s headquarters in Lake Forest, Calif., was not returned.

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