BELLEVILLE, IL (KTVI)– A group of Catholic school boys in Belleville, Illinois face criminal charges after allegedly recording video of softball players changing in the girl’s locker room with some sort of hidden camera.
Several students say the suspects in the case are members of the boys’ baseball team, and the victims are members of the girls’ softball team.
Belleville police are tight lipped about details in the case because most involved are juveniles. In a release, the city’s police chief confirmed that school officials became aware of the recording or recordings on May 1st. It wasn’t until May 6th, according to the Belleville release, that the school notified authorities of what had happened. In the interim, police say, a number of students were questioned by Althoff officials.
As to why it took so long to get police involved, Althoff Principal David Harris would not say. In fact, he was not answering any questions, citing the involvement of police.
“With an ongoing investigation I cannot discuss any matters due to student confidentiality and that’s all I can say at this point,” he told reporters outside the school.
One student, Taylor Bertelsman, who just graduated from the school, says she hates to see Althoff suffer the bad publicity.
“I was very shocked because Althoff is such a loving family environment and something like this doesn’t typically happen.”
She says she knows some of the young women who were photographed.
“I believe they’re doing fine,” she said. “I think initially they were just as shocked as the rest of the school as the rest of the school that this had happened, but overall I think they’re faring well.”
Part of the reason police are involved is a very specific Illinois law, that names locker rooms as one place where it is criminal to record video of someone without their knowledge.
The case is being sent to a special prosecutor, appointed out of Springfield. St. Clair County States’ Attorney Brendan Kelley is removing his office from the case to avoid any potential conflict of interest. He’s not allowed to specify what the conflict might be, again, due to the fact it’s a juvenile case.
READ THE POLICE DEPARTMENT’S RELEASE ON THE CASE:
Mr. Dave Harris, Principal of Althoff Catholic High School, 5401 West Main Street, Belleville, Illinois belatedly reported an incident of possible ‘Unauthorized Video Recording’. The report was taken by Police on Friday, May 3, 2013, at approximately 8:27 pm.
The School Staff became aware of these allegations of misconduct on or about May 1, 2013. The suspects were identified as several current male juveniles students associated with a school sports team. Several current juvenile female students were alleged targets of these unlawful recordings.
Member(s) of the Staff conducted an internal investigation into the complaints prior to reporting the incident to Police. The staff attempted to interview/or interviewed most of the students suspected of participating in the video recording or having knowledge of it. In some instances the parents of the male students were contacted.
The Belleville Police Department began investigating this incident on Monday, May 6, 2013. We have worked with the St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office to seize or secure any cell phones and/or other electronic devices that may have been used in any unlawful video recordings along with any digital evidence contained on such devices. The investigation continues.
It`s the type of case that leaves parents scratching their head, wondering if there`s anything that can be done to stop it.
Students from Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville, Il say a number of female softball players were video taped without their knowledge by male baseball players.
The school principal said concerns over student confidentiality and the fact that there is an ongoing investigation prohibit the school from commenting.
It`s the type of investigation that`s happened before.
Here are a few cases from 2012 that we had reported about.
-A former teacher in the Ft. Zumwalt school district was accused of video taping male students in a shower during camp.
-A Rittenour student from St. Ann admitted taking inappropriate photos and video of students.
-An Edwardsville police officer was accused of taking inappropriate photos at a tanning facility.
We talked with some parents and students from other school districts who say it`s common to video tape classmates.
“People just take pictures and they send it all over the place,” said high school student Steven Galloway.
His Dad, Richard, has concerns over the access students have to phones with cameras.
“They should be learning instead.”