Police: Fmr. NJ custodian secretly videotaped students, teachers

CAMDEN - November 28, 2012

41-year-old John Martin of South Jefferson Avenue in Wenonah was charged with a count of 3rd degree Invasion of Privacy.

He turned himself in at the Gloucester City Police Department Wednesday afternoon.

Police released Martin on the condition he not go near the high school or any students or staff.

Martin worked as the Chief Custodian and head of the school's video surveillance system.

He was employed at the school for 18 years.

Martin resigned from his job at the school on November 21st after being interviewed by investigators.

Martin is accused of directing the installation of hidden video cameras throughout the high school that recorded individuals in various stages of undress and activity.

Police say the pinhole-size cameras, approximately a quarter of an inch in diameter, were placed in eight separate rooms, including classrooms, the school's choir room, weight room, backstage area, maintenance facilities and football area, and were hidden in locations such as ventilation ducts and smoke detectors.

Students used some of those rooms as changing areas and some of the images show nudity.

"I don't know all the details on how he got the equipment, but they're very small, he was able to conceal them in the vents, behind the fire suppression system," Jason Laughlin of the Camden County Prosecutor's Office said.

Police say Martin linked the cameras, which were installed without the school's knowledge, to the existing video security system at Gloucester Catholic.

Martin is accused of possessing hours of video footage and a large cache of pictures which appear to be screen shots taken with his cell phone from the video.

Most of the images and recordings are of females, both students and teachers.

The Prosecutor's Office and school staff are reviewing the video to identify the people in the recordings.

Anyone identified either has been or will be contacted by law enforcement.

"There is still information being pulled off hard drives, we're still looking at pictures, we're still trying to identify all the people in the pictures so as of right now, we don't know how many people and how long this has been happening," Laughlin said.

Police say Martin shared pictures with at least two other people and an investigation into the number of images Martin possessed, how long he was recording people in the school and who the images were distributed to, is ongoing.

More charges against Martin and others are possible.

The Prosecutor's Office has no indication Martin distributed these videos to a wider audience by selling them or making them available through the internet.

A witness who had seen the images informed law enforcement last week.

When Action News arrived at Martin's home in Wenonah to get his side of the story, he and his family had called police saying they didn't want to be bothered by the news media.

At Gloucester Catholic Wednesday night, some parents told us this wasn't a story, that we were scaring the kids and we should go away.

But others begged to differ.

"It's upsetting, very upsetting for anyone, not just because we have children here, if it was children at another school, it's just as upsetting," parent Toni Tonidejesse said.

"It's just sad to know that the kids are going to school to learn and be truthful with things and expect this, going to the bathroom, somebody watching you; it's a sad situation," parent Mark Tonidejesse said.

Bill Cooper's nephew Tyler is a freshmen at the school .

"It's deplorable, especially at a parochial school that teaches ethics, loyalty, that kind of thing. Absolutely deplorable and they shouldn't have anybody working here that has that type of reputation," Cooper said.

Prosecutors say this is very much an ongoing investigation and more serious charges may be forthcoming.

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