New York State Police have confirmed to CNY Central that they are investigating a complaint by seven underage girls that they were secretly recorded while undressing at homes near Chittenango over the summer.
State Police spokesperson Jack Keller says they have been investigating â??A case of unlawful surveillance that took place at two residences during the late summer.â?? According to a parent of one of the girls, who asked to remain anonymous, one of the incidents took place at a pool party, where five girls were secretly recorded while changing into bathing suits. The parent said underage boys had set up hidden cameras in the changing area.
The parent also said a similar incident happened at another home involving the same boys and several other underage girls. The parent said the girls heard rumors about the recordings and their parents called State Police on October 13.
State Police Captain Mark Lincoln confirmed some of this information Friday, saying Troopers have identified three male suspects between the ages of 15 and 16 years old. He says Police have determined that there were two incidents, one in July and one in August, apparently involving pool parties at residences in the Village of Cazenovia and Town of Sullivan.
Lincoln says the boys face charges of unlawful surveillance, a class E felony, which could be handled in either criminal court or felony court depending on the ages of the suspects when the incidents allegedly took place. Lincoln adds there is no evidence that any of these alleged videos have been posted on the Internet. If that did happen, the suspects could also face child pornography charges.
A parent says police found the recordings on a computer and an iPhone. The parent said that one of the boys has admitted to the incidents and is remorseful.
Lincoln says the seven underage girls and the three suspects are all students at Chittenango High School. One of the parents who spoke with CNY Central is critical of the school district, claiming that one of the boys is a member of the Chittenango football team and when coaches found out about the recording incidents they lectured the team members on proper behavior off school grounds.
The source says he and other parents contacted Chittenango Superintendent Michael Schiedo, but were disappointed with what they say is a lack of response on the part of the school district.
Keller told CNY Central that â??The school district has been fully cooperating with us, and nothing occurred on school property.â?? Keller said State Police are working with the Madison County District Attorneyâ??s office in the investigation.
Superintendent Schiedo issued a statement late this afternoon that " the District fully cooperated with law enforcement... that the District handled the situation appropriately through the Athletic Code of Conduct... any dicipline cannot be shared with the community or parents." Shiedo said he can "assure the community that the District takes these allegations very seriously."
Read the full statement:
â??The District has fully cooperated with local law enforcement in the investigation of this issue. The District was unable to conduct its own investigation while the criminal investigation was in its early stages. Upon gathering enough information during the first week of which we were informed, the district handled the situation appropriately through our Athletic Code of Conduct. The outcome of the Districtâ??s investigation and any discipline that may result therefrom cannot be shared with the community or parents of any victims since such information constitutes a confidential student record under the Family Education Rights And Privacy Act (â??FERPAâ??). Unfortunately, the fact that FERPA protects the privacy rights of all students and legally constrains the District from disclosing disciplinary information, creates the misperception by some parents and community members that the District in unresponsive to their concerns. To the extent that I can correct those misperceptions, I assure the community that the District takes these allegations very seriously and will deal with them in a manner that is consistent with our Code of Conduct.â??