The young couple seemed to have it all.
A beautiful, 8,000-square-foot home in Roscoe Village, a jet setting lifestyle and two young children who needed a nanny.
Now, the couple is accused of setting up hidden cameras to capture nude images of their nanny. The wealthy parents have been sued in a civil suit, and the husband was charged with a crime.
The lawyer for the young woman they employed says the couple were voyeurs who devastated two young lives.
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“These women are extremely brave,” said attorney Gail Eisenberg of Loftus & Eisenberg law firm. “This was their first job out of college and they right away learned that the world is not always there to protect them.”
Eisenberg represents two young women in their civil suit against Michael Johnston and Kelly Halverson. She said both women known as Jane Doe and Julie Doe to protect their identities, are friends and recent graduates of DePaul University.
Jane Doe was hired in December 2019 as a home manager, child caretaker and personal assistant to the couple. Julie Doe also worked as a nanny in couple’s close circle of friends.
Signs of Trouble
Eisenberg said Jane Doe, on her second week of working for the couple, was asked to organize boxes in their bedroom closets. She discovered one of the boxes was filled with sex toys and other sexual paraphernalia, according to court records.
“She did find some explicit objects. At the time, she kind of put it out of her mind but in hindsight does think it was part of a grooming process," Eisenberg said.
One month later, in January 2020, the couple asked Jane and Julie to house-sit for them while they were out of town on vacation. According to their civil suit, the wife “encouraged Julie and Jane to use the Jacuzzi bathtub in the master bathroom” and to “help themselves to the Johnstons' wine and beer while they were away.”
The women allege the couple secretly videotaped them undressed and bathing using spy cameras for their own sexual gratification, according to the women’s lawsuit.
The next month, according to the civil suit, the couple once again asked Jane to house-sit for them over night. Jane alleges that as she was about to undress, she discovered a hidden camera disguised as a picture frame aimed at the bathtub. Court records say Jane searched the house and found two more hidden cameras, one in a bathroom disguised as an iPhone dock charger and another in the bedroom she was using.
Eisenberg said that there is even video of Johnston setting up the camera, “these were motion sensor cameras, so any person who would have entered those rooms would have turned on the camera.”
The couple no longer seem to live at their Roscoe Village home that they purchased for $2.6 million. Johnston listed his current address at a mansion in the suburbs. Attorney Eisenberg said copies of the videos the women found in the home were turned over to Chicago police.
On Nov. 10, Johnston appeared in bond court on a felony charge of making an unauthorized recording in a bathroom. His wife has not been charged.
Johnston’s attorney Damon Cheronis, who is representing him in the criminal suit, sent NBC 5 Investigates an email, writing his client “takes these allegations seriously and will continue to work through the appropriate legal process.”
In a written statement, Jane Doe told NBC 5 Investigates, “My life is forever changed because of what they did to me…I hope that by speaking out about this I can empower other survivors to do the same.”
Attorney Eisenberg said her clients will always wonder whether someone with a camera is watching no matter where they are.
Johnston is back in court on Nov. 17.