Police looking into allegations that BCMS girls were videotaped changing clothes

January 23, 2004|GARY MOYERS

State police have been asked to investigate allegations of unauthorized videotaping of female students at Boyle County Middle School, and one teacher has been placed on leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Superintendent Pam Rogers confirmed the presence of police investigators and the leave.

"We're not allowed to say a great deal because it is an ongoing investigation," she said. "I can confirm that some students at the middle school approached the staff and expressed concern, and we immediately called the police."

The incident allegedly occurred earlier this week when some students in a photography class needed a place to change into costumes. According to the mother of one of the girls involved, the girls were told they could change clothing in a room used for audio-visual recording.

The parent said one of the girls realized a camera was on while she was in the office, and she removed the tape and took it home. Some of the students apparently approached assistant principal Rob Pendygraft Wednesday with their concerns about the possibility that a tape or tapes existed. Rogers said Pendygraft reacted by calling his supervisors, and state police were contacted within the hour.


"Initially we contacted local police, but we were directed to the state police by local authorities," said Rogers. "This type of investigation is under their jurisdiction."

State police Detective Monte Owens is heading the investigation, and he was at the school Thursday. Police would not comment on what has been found to this point.

"It's all preliminary right now. We're following up on an allegation," said state police spokesman Chris Lanham of the Richmond Post. "All I can say right now is we received a complaint, an allegation, and we're investigating that allegation."

Rogers would not comment on whether or not any illegal tapes were actually found, but she said officers did remove some equipment from the room Thursday.

"I cannot say what was removed, because it is an active investigation," she said. "All I can say is that we are cooperating fully with the police in whatever they need in the course of their investigation."

One teacher has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, Rogers said, but at this point no charges have been filed, and the teacher is still an employee of the system.

Boyle Communications Director Paul Elwyn said Thursday that all possibilities must be examined before action is taken.

"First it has to be determined if there are illegal tapes, and then it has to be determined who did the taping," he said. "That room is used by many people at the school."

Rogers said staff at the school took the report seriously from the outset.

"Our staff is instructed to take any allegation like this serious," she said. "The staff has been instructed to cooperate fully with investigators, and the police understand the urgency of the situation. We need answers as soon as possible to take the appropriate action."

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