According to KCTV5 News, local St. Thomas Aquinas High School choir director, Joseph Heidesch, now faces sex crimes charges after several students allege they were taped by the 45-year-old, without their consent, at the school.
Heidesch Facing 24 Felony Breach Of Privacy Charges On Top Of Sexual Exploitation Of A Child
The publication reported that Heidesch used a secret camera to record children while they were nude. Once the charges were levied, St. Thomas Aquinas High School placed Mr. Heidesch on leave. The events of at least 10 occurrences are reported between August 1, 2016, and October 5, 2021.
To date, the school choir director has been charged with:
- Two counts of breach of privacy
- Four counts of sexual exploitation of a child;
- Twenty-four counts of invasion of privacy
When Did The Alleged Sexual Exploitation Occur?
Joseph Heidesch has been an employee of St. Thomas Aquinas for over a decade, specifically twenty-two years. The federal complaints specify the alleged abuses taking place between 2016 and 2021. According to the court records, at least two of those incidents occurred in 2019, one of which involved a teenager who could not be identified, boy or girl. The choir director was arrested in October 2021.
What Did Joseph Heidesch Allegedly Do?
According to the parents of one of the victims, the former choir director would ask students to get undressed in an area of his office that had a secret camera. The court documents outline a specific time of a recorded video stored on Heidesch’s computer, where a student was in a state of undress.
Is Thomas Aquinas High School Responsible For What Happened?
According to the lawsuit filed, the school allegedly ignored obvious warning signs which they allege included “grooming behavior”, which is a common technique used by sexual predators.
Criminal Case Against Joseph Heidesch
At the moment information about the case are limited due to a ruling by Judge Michael P. Joyce in Johnson County. Judge Joyce has kept the case under seal to avoid jeopardizing the criminal investigation and to protect the identity of the victims.
Update On The St. Thomas Aquinas Abuse Lawsuit
Updated on Dec 12, 2022: Four allegations of child exploitation and 26 counts of invasion of privacy were previously brought against Joseph Heidesch. He pleaded guilty to 25 of those charges. Johnson County prosecutors testified in court on Monday and say they were able to identify 25 students after looking through evidence later seized from his house. The plea agreement stipulates a 68-month sentence with no probation. Also, Heidesch is required to register as a sex offender.
Interview With Local Sexual Abuse Lawyer Reed Martens, Esq. in Kansas and Missouri
Reed Martens is an attorney licensed to practice in Kansas and Missouri, and he currently represents one of the victims of child abuse in this case. To contact Reed about this case, click here.
For more information about resources available to sexual abuse survivors, visit this link: https://abuseguardian.com/sexual-assault-lawyer/kansas/sex-trauma-therapist-ks
Laurence Banville: “Reed, so you are familiar with this case at St. Thomas Aquinas?”
Reed Martens: “Yes, I currently represent one of the survivors of abuse in this case and my office is currently receiving calls from others who are seeking help with how to deal with this horrific case of abuse that’s happened here in Kansas”.
Laurence Banville: “For our readers, the sexual abuse lawsuit filed talks about missing warnings signs and alleged “grooming behavior”. In your experience, what are those signs that should the school have taken action, would have prevented this from becoming so widespread?”
Reed Martens: “Yes, sexual predators engage in a pattern of abusive behavior that is known as grooming. They gain access to their victims early on and seek to manipulate them. They isolate their victims and build trust with them to where they share “secrets”. Then they commonly desensitize sexual behavior by talking about it and then escalate to the actual act. They brush it off as if its just normal and natural behavior.”
Laurence Banville: “How is your firm currently helping families of children that are victims of Heidesch?”
Reed Martens: “We have established a helpline at our Abuse Guardians center that families can call to get their detailed questions answered. That number is (866) 577-2786. “
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