The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office has dropped all charges against UC Santa Barbara student Justin Asinobi, who was arrested in February for allegedly planting hidden recording devices in other people’s homes.
Isla Vista Foot Patrol (IVFP) arrested Asinobi in his home on February 16, after an initial victim reported finding a camera hidden inside a common object in their bathroom. Deputies searched Asinobi’s home and seized several more recording devices hidden in items such as air fresheners and chargers. Asinobi was booked on the charges of eavesdropping and invasion of privacy by secretly filming, and his bail was set at $400,000.
According to the Daily Nexus, after Asinobi made bail on February 24, his defense attorney Lauren Gartrell notified the court and District Attorney’s Office that Asinobi would change his initial plea to guilty. Deputy District Attorney Sherwin Nadjm rejected the plea, and Deputy District Attorney Megan Chanda argued that the guilty plea would not allow the prosecution to pursue more serious charges stemming from the ongoing investigation.
Gartrell argued that the district attorney was refusing to accept the plea due to ill-preparedness, and on February 25 the prosecution moved to have the case dismissed. Chanda told the Nexus that because evidence suggests Asinobi may have committed additional crimes he could be charged for, the prosecution “opted not to prosecute him to avoid jeopardizing a larger case should they pursue one.” Asinobi is still under investigation by IVFP as detectives continue to review footage from his cameras.
The Independent contacted Nadjm and Chanda to comment on the dismissal, but neither responded by press time.
Asinobi was fairly well-known at UCSB in his role as a community public relations officer for the Commission on Disability Equality (CODE) and for his popular Twitter account where he was known as ‘mr.bitches.’
Once his arrest was made public, many UCSB students took to Twitter to talk about their own experiences with being secretly filmed, and law enforcement officials said they would contact any victim individually throughout the course of their investigation.