School Caretaker Nigel French Found Guilty Of Spying On Girls' Changing Room
Former scout leader and devoted churchgoer Nigel French, 51, had been a maintenance worker at a Welsh high school for 21 years. So the assistant principal was shocked when he found French behind a stack of gym mats, peeping through a drilled hole into the girls' changing rooms below. And it shocked family and friends when a court found French guilty this week of attempted voyeurism.
Assistant principal John Davies went up to the viewing gallery of the swimming pool at Pen y Dre High School in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, when he heard a noise. That was curious in a part of the building used for storage. "I saw part of his feet sticking out towards the back end and I wondered what was going on," he told WalesOnline. "I could see somebody was in a semi prone position. He pushed his head above the mats and then quickly ducked back down."
When Davies later went to investigate with two other staff members, he discovered a moved tile and a drilled hole. They also found eight drilled holes above the boys' changing room, which formerly was used by girls. "It was likely the holes above the boys changing room were done some years ago," prosecutor Suzanne Thomas told the court.
French, who had maintained his innocence, claimed that he was simply taking a break from work, lying down in the viewing area and waiting for the swimming lesson to finish, so he could clean the pool. "I wasn't spying on pupils in the pool because that would be wrong," he claimed.
But the jury didn't buy it. French will be sentenced in early August.
Peepholes and hidden cameras are being found all over the place these days. Last month, a female employee at Houston's Hobby Airport discovered a camera concealed in a thermostat in the women's bathroom. "That's your most private moment in the whole wide world is in the bathroom," the employee told ABC affiliate KTRK. "You don't even share that with your husband, and all of us ladies are completely devastated over that."
In May, a group of women sued Las Vegas show producer David Saxe, claiming that he installed a hidden video camera in their pole dancing classroom, which also served as a changing area. In April, a maintenance worker at a Southern California Sears was arrested and charged with burglary and surreptitious filming of unsuspecting women, when hidden cameras were uncovered in the walls of women's restrooms and changing rooms.
Last month, an employee at a Catholic university in Pennsylvania was fired after his co-worker noticed a camera lens peeping through a small hole in a ceiling tile in her office, right above where she breast-pumped.
And the students in South Wales aren't the only ones who might have been victimized. Last month, a Sapulpa, Okla.. lay softball coach was arrested after a hidden camera was found videotaping female students. And just two weeks ago, a principal of a Fort Worth, Texas school was placed on administrative leave for allegedly telling her daughter to plant a hidden camera in the girls' locker room.
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Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.
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