A chief custodian who was responsible for the school's video surveillance system resigned from his job at a Camden County catholic school after pictures -- some nude -- he allegedly took of students with cameras hidden in the school were found on his school-issued cell phone.
According to the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, John Martin, 41, admitted that he aimed the hidden pin-hole sized cameras to focus on specific body parts.
NBC10 first brought you the story of this investigation Tuesday night. In a letter sent to parents Tuesday, Gloucester Catholic Junior/Senior High School Principal John Colman says prosecutors were investigating the former employee after Martin allegedly circulated photos of students.
On Wednesday, the Camden County Prosecutor's Office announced Martin's arrest. Martin, who lives on Jefferson Avenue in Wenonah, was charged with third-degree invasion of privacy and released on his own recognizance as details of his alleged deeds emerged.
Prosecutors say Martin, who worked for 18 years at the school eventually running the maintenance department and high school surveillance system, admitted to installing hidden video cameras around the building to capture students and teachers -- mostly females. In a probable cause statement, investigators say that Martin admitted to capturing naked photos on a DVR and then taking still photos of the videos with his cell phone.
The quarter-inch cameras were hidden in ventilation ducts and smoke detectors and placed in eight rooms -- some where students changed -- including classrooms, the choir room, weight room, backstage area, maintenance area and football area.
The accusations surprised students and neighbors who say that Martin had a reputation of being a helpful, well-liked person who was always there for the students.
"He was just the go-to guy at Gloucester Catholic," said Student Body president Julia Pedersen. "If you needed anything he was always there for us."
"A nice guy, you wouldn't expect it from him," said a male student.
Martin allegedly linked the hidden cameras into the school's existing surveillance system. He's accused of possessing hours of video and still photos.
Prosecutors say a witness informed law enforcement last week of the alleged images. The investigation came to light the day before Thanksgiving and Martin resigned his position at the school the same day, according to Colman’s letter.
“In the past few days we’ve been reviewing data on the school computers, on Mr. Martin’s computers, on his cell phone, and we found a wealth of images,” said prosecutor’s office spokesman Jason Laughlin Wednesday night.
Prosecutors say that Martin shared the photos with at least two other people. It wasn't immediately clear how far back Martin was allegedly taking videos of students in the school.
More charges could be coming against Martin and the people he allegedly shared the images with even though the images weren't widely distributed.
“We don’t have any information that he put them on the Internet or attempted to sell them,” Laughlin said.
As part of his release, Martin isn't allowed anywhere near the high school, students or staff.
Prosecutors say they've identified some of the students with exposed private parts in the videos.
"We at the school will notify the parents of any students whose photograph is identified so that they can be alerted to this situation and so that the students can be provided whatever counseling or other assistance might be necessary,” Colman said in his letter.
On Wednesday, the school issued another letter that said they would "continue to work to assure the well-being of our students and ask that you keep us in your prayers."
No one answered the door at Martin’s home Wednesday or Thursday.