COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – An Ohio teacher secretly recorded his kindergarten students using a tiny spy camera hung inside his classroom’s bathroom, prosecutors said Saturday.
Dozens of videos of students were found on the computer of Elliot Gornall, 32, a former teacher at the elementary school in Loudonville who resigned last year after being charged in another case, Ashland County Prosecutor Chris Tunnell said.
“The thought that a previously trusted kindergarten teacher would take advantage of young children in this way is horrifying,” Tunnell said in a statement announcing the charges.
Gornall faces 25 felony charges: 23 counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance and two counts of attempting the same crime. Twenty-five kindergartners were recorded, Tunnell said.
Gornall had worked in the district for four years following clean background checks, officials said.
“He was well-liked by students and staff and parents,” said Annette Gorrell, principal at R.F. McMullen Elementary School. “The betrayal is huge.”
Gornall was arrested Friday and was expected in court Monday. A message left for his attorney Saturday seeking comment on the charges was not immediately returned.
Gornall resigned from teaching in December after being charged with felony drug possession. He was later charged with a misdemeanor count of receiving stolen property when authorities said they discovered children’s underwear while searching his home in relation to the drug charges. Investigators then confiscated his home computer and contacted the school.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation examined Gornall’s computer and found videos dating to some time on or after Aug. 20 to mid-November, Tunnell said.
The district is sad and hurt by the case, Gorrell said.
“We are responsible for every teacher and staff member who works here and when one of them breaks the law, we take it very seriously,” she said.
Investigators said none of the videos was uploaded online or shared in any way, and there is no indication any students were physically abused or touched inappropriately.
School officials said they do not plan to address their students about the allegations but will have counselors available.
“The kindergartners are innocent,” Gorrell said. “We are hoping that they don’t have to hear about this.”