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Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | Back issues
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Venezuelan Girls Say Host, 72 Yrs Old, Was a Snoop

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Two young Venezuelan women studying on a foreign exchange program say they had quite a shock when they discovered a video camera hidden in a bathroom tissue box at the home of their host, a 72-year-old man.

Kundry Rivero Mujica and Alejandra Monreal Lopez signed up for a study-abroad program with Switzerland-based EducationFirst, according to their lawsuit in Superior Court.

They sued EducationFirst and their "host," Ismael Basco on Oct. 1.

The women claim that EducationFirst arranged for Basco to be their host. They moved into Basco's home - they had separate bedrooms but shared a private bathroom - and began their English courses at EducationFirst's facility in the Fisherman's Wharf district.

Shortly after moving, Lopez says, while she was using the toilet she noticed an oddly shaped object in the trash can, partially covered by garbage. She fetched Mujica, and they used their cellphones to document the object - a video camera hidden inside a box of Kleenex, according to the complaint.

The women discussed it with another student who had a better grasp of English, and the three of them took the camera to the San Francisco Police Department. The complaint states that the women were interviewed by police and the camera was confiscated, but does not indicate what police did with Basco.

Mujica and Lopez sued EducationFirst and Basco on state-law and constitutional invasion of privacy, since "EF's agent Basco intentionally invaded plaintiffs' privacy by hiding and concealing a video camera in plaintiffs' bathroom," the complaint states.

They demand treble damages for the alleged "intent to record" them with the secret bath cam.

As for EducationFirst, the women claim the agency defrauded them by not fully investigating Basco as it promised.

They also seek damages for negligent misrepresentation, unfair business practices, infliction of emotional distress and breach of fiduciary duty.

They are represented by Brian Carter, with Carter, Carter, Fries & Grunschlag, in San Francisco.

According to the EducationFirst website, students can stay in dormitories but are encouraged to stay with host families for "maximum cultural exchange" and to "return home with a more authentic accent."

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