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NJ prosecutors: Custodian admits to using hidden cameras to spy on students

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A chief custodian who was responsible for a southern New Jersey school's video surveillance system resigned from his job after pictures -- some nude -- he allegedly took of students with cameras hidden in the facility were found on his school-issued cellphone.

According to the prosecutor's office in Camden County, N.J., John Martin, 41, admitted that he aimed the hidden pin-hole sized cameras to focus on specific body parts.

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 was charged with third-degree invasion of privacy and released on his own recognizance as details of his alleged deeds emerged.

Tiny cameras allegedly installed around building
Prosecutors say Martin, who worked for 18 years at the school, ran the maintenance department and high school surveillance system. He admitted to installing hidden video cameras around the building to capture students and teachers -- mostly females, prosecutors said.

"Students used some of those rooms as changing areas and some of the images show nudity," the prosecutor's office said in a press release.

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 cellphone.

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.

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'A go-to guy'
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.

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Martin allegedly linked the hidden cameras into the school's existing surveillance system. He is accused of possessing still photos and hours of video.

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 cellphone, 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 was not 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.

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"We don't have any information that he put them on the Internet or attempted to sell them," Laughlin said.

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School, prosecutors begin to notify students
As part of his release, Martin is not allowed anywhere near the high school, students or staff.

Prosecutors say they have 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.

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