SMITH COUNTY, Tenn. (WZTV) — An employee of a cheerleading facility in Middle Tennessee has confessed to putting a camera inside a bathroom at the location and recording minors, according to an affidavit.
Andrew Wayne Halford is charged with especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor and three counts of unlawful photographing of a minor.
An arrest affidavit said Halford confessed to the owners of Smith County Elite Cheerleading that he had placed a black backpack, equipped with a GoPro camera, on a shelf inside the bathroom. Investigators say the camera captured video of girls changing cloths. Halford allegedly said he did it for the purpose of "sexual gratification," court documents state.
The victims in the video were as young as 9, 12 and 13 years old. Halford is accused of videotaping victims at multiple times.
A concerned parent, who didn't wish to give their name, told FOX 17 News, “Well, I was shocked. I was wondering who this man was.”
Investigators then say Halford brought his "production back to his home" after an incident in December and took it to Premier Athletics in Franklin.
A similar investigation is underway in Franklin after police say camera footage revealed 60 women, most of them minors, were recorded on a camera hidden in the bathroom.
Police have identified 47 of the 60 victims and are working to notify parents. They continue to try and identify the other 13 victims. Franklin Police appear to have a suspect, stating on their website "Once formally charged in this case, Franklin Police will identify the suspect, his charges, bond amount, and court date."
"The placement of a camera in such a private place is a violation of trust in its most extreme form. This is terribly upsetting to parents and their children, and it is just as troubling to us. The Department is working diligently to safeguard sensitive images, to help victims and their families cope, and to prepare a solid criminal case for the courtroom." - Franklin Police
As of Friday, there have been no charges in the Franklin case.
“This is becoming much more common given that it’s so much easier to get photographic equipment into places like this," Former Prosecutor Alex Little tells FOX 17 News. "I think you’re going to see law-enforcement do everything they can to identify all the victims and to make sure that this is stopped.”
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