Sheriff: Man confesses to hiding camera in bathroom of Smith County cheerleading facility

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SMITH COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – A man has confessed to putting a hidden camera inside a bathroom at a cheerleading facility in Smith County, according to investigators.

According to an arrest affidavit, Andrew Wayne Halford, who was an advanced tumbling coach for five years at Smith County Elite Cheerleading and Athletics, called the owners of the facility on January 14 and confessed to them that he had been putting a black backpack, equipped with a GoPro camera, on a shelf inside the bathroom for the purpose of sexual gratification. Investigators say the camera was taking videos of girls changing clothes.

According to the affidavits, a 12-year-old girl was videoed on October 30 and again on December 2, while a 9-year-old girl and a 13-year-old girl were also videoed on October 30.

The Smith County Sheriff also told News 2 his agency found footage related to the investigation dating as far back as 2017.

Halford has since been charged with one count of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor and three counts of unlawful photographing of a minor. He is currently being held in the Smith County Jail without bond.

The arrest affidavit goes on to say Halford then took the camera back to his home after the December 2 incident, and then took it to Premier Athletics in Franklin where a similar investigation is taking place.

On Thursday, January 14 management at Premier Athletics in Franklin found a GoPro camera hidden inside a changing room/restroom. Franklin police were called shortly after.

The camera had footage that revealed 60 women, most of them minors, were recorded on the camera. Two of the 60 women appear to have been partially undressed in the footage.

Detectives have since identified 47 of the 60 victims and are notifying their parents; they are also working to identify the remaining 13 victims.

The Smith County Sheriff confirmed to News 2 that Halford worked at Premier Athletics in Franklin and that he has been working with the Franklin Police Department on their investigation.

Currently, there is no evidence to suggest other restrooms or private areas in the facility were compromised.

Police did say multiple charges are expected to be filed, but did not officially name a suspect in this case.

The police department issued the following statement on their investigation.

“The placement of a camera in such a private place is a violation of trust in its most extreme form. This is terribly upsetting to parents and their children, and it is just as troubling to us. The Department is working diligently to safeguard sensitive images, to help victims and their families cope, and to prepare a solid criminal case for the courtroom.

This is a developing story. Stay with News 2 and for updates.

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