South Jersey Catholic School Staffer Probed, Allegedly Took Cell Photos of Students

November 28, 2012 - 11:58 pm
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By Robin Culverwell, Oren Liebermann

GLOUCESTER CITY, N.J. (CBS) — Authorities are looking into the actions of a Gloucester Catholic High School maintenance worker who is said to have circulated photos of students via a cell phone.

A letter on the school’s web site from school principal John Colman says someone reported the staff member to the authorities (see letter, .pdf format). The Camden County prosecutor’s office, he says, in turn notified the school.

Colman’s letter states he was contacted by prosecutors the day before Thanksgiving, and that the worker was circulating photos on a school-issued phone.

That worker’s phone was confiscated and he resigned.

Prosecutors say 41-year-old John Martin set up a network of cameras, eight in all, at Gloucester Catholic High School that he used to spy on teachers and students. Students used some of the rooms in the schools as changing areas and some of the images show nudity, according to authorities. 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.

Authorities 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.

Principal Colman says school officials will notify parents of any students whose photos are identified, and he says it’s his understanding that Camden County investigators are reviewing the photos to determine whether there was criminal activity and the extent of it.

“I think it’s a great school and it’s a sad situation. But I think they handled it well,” said Colleen Cianci, a Gloucester Catholic parent.

Many parents didn’t want to speak on camera about the pictures, but they said the incident is troubling. Parents who did speak said they are confident in the school.

“I think it was handled appropriately, I really do,” said Brenda Cimorelli.

Cimorelli has a son who attends Gloucester Catholic. She says the school acted quickly to protect the students here.

“Does it worry me? Not really, I think they handled it appropriately. I think they have our children’s best interest at heart,” she said.

The Diocese of Camden referred us to a statement from the principal of Gloucester Catholic, which read in part:

“It is our conviction and our commitment that the security and well-being of our students – your sons and daughters – is our first and most important obligation and I will keep you apprised of developments in this matter as information is provided to us.”

Authorities say Martin, who was Chief Custodian at the school for 18 years, was arrested and charged with a count of 3rd degree Invasion of Privacy. He reportedly turned himself in at the Gloucester City Police Department Wednesday afternoon and was released on his own recognizance on the condition he not go near the high school or any students or staff.

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