Hidden camera found in cheerleaders' changing room

Hidden camera found in cheerleaders' changing room

Gresham Principal Sheila Fuqua shows 6 News Reporter Catharyn Campbell where the camera was hidden. Gresham Principal Sheila Fuqua shows 6 News Reporter Catharyn Campbell where the camera was hidden.

August 24, 2005

By CATHARYN CAMPBELL
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- A secret camera has been discovered in a school room used by students to change clothes. It was put there by a school administrator.

School officials say they had good reason to put the hidden camera there, but some people fear they were photographed undressed.

Gresham Middle School Principal Sheila Fuqua says last year snacks and other items were being taken from a teacher's lounge. That's when she contacted the school district's security office.

Fuqua says the camera was placed in the corner of the room, hidden by a large plant, "with the focus to the refrigerator and the top part of the refrigerator."

The miniature recording device was placed there in May. Fuqua says only administrators and security staff knew about it.

"Yesterday, when we were in a meeting, it was brought to my attention at that time that teachers were changing, and evidently cheerleaders were sent in there to change," she says.

Knox County Schools spokesman Russ Oaks says the camera was only operational for eight days and the footage was only checked if something was reported stolen.

"That recorder was set on what we call a 24-hour loop," Oaks explained, "meaning it records a signal from the camera for only 24 hours. If no one comes in an replaces the videotape, takes the videotape out, it automatically cycles around and records over what it had recorded in the last 24 hours."

School officials insist no footage was seen or believed to be recorded that would show anyone undressing in the lounge.

"The only reason this was ever done was security reasons and for the safety of everyone," Fuqua said. "And there was never any intent whatsoever to do anything with that tape.

The camera was removed during the summer.

Administrators say video did capture the person they believe was responsible for the thefts, but no charges have been filed.

6 News did some digging and found that most video recordings are legal with or without consent.

There are very few laws prohibiting video recording of any kind, but there are laws in some places dealing with areas of expected privacy. They include areas like bathrooms, locker rooms, changing or dressing rooms, adult bedrooms, and other areas where a person should expect a high level of personal privacy.

The majority of the laws dealing with video recording privacy issues tend to allow recording and monitoring of video activity under most circumstances without notification of any of the parties involved.

So far, the courts have allowed video recordings of nannies, elder care employees, and other types of video recordings made with covert cameras without the subject's consent.

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