Teacher Secretly Recorded Colleagues in School Bathroom: Lawsuit

Seventeen New York teachers who say they were unknowingly recorded by a hidden camera planted in a bathroom by an ex co-worker have sued their former colleague and the school for doing little to prevent the invasive crime.

The teachers, who work at Sand Creek Middle School in Colonie, a suburb of Albany, filed their lawsuit in Albany County Supreme Court Tuesday, according to local newspaper the Times Union. The teachers reportedly claimed they were all recorded by former fifth-grade teacher Patrick Morgan, a 28-year veteran who was arrested last February and pled guilty to two counts of unlawful surveillance after an apparent phone charger located in a co-ed bathroom used by students and faculty was discovered to be a camera he used to record at least 28 fellow staff members. The lawsuit claims the footage Morgan collected was kept for personal use and sold to other undisclosed parties.

The teachers allege that clear signs of Morgan’s impropriety were left unchecked by the school’s leadership before the discovery of the hidden camera, the Times Union reported. The former teacher, who was placed on administrative leave for nine months before resigning from his post in November, had reportedly been disciplined for being unprofessional at work before his arrest.

The lawsuit claims the South Colonie Central School District allowed Morgan to create a “hostile and dangerous” workplace, and should have known this was a possibility “given the documented history of [Morgan’s] disciplinary issues and inappropriate conduct,” according to the Times Union.

The teachers are seeking compensation for the emotional distress, pain, and suffering caused by Morgan’s actions and by the district’s inaction, the outlet reported.

“The facts are clear here and we look forward to a speedy resolution so the injured staff can move on from these devastating invasions of privacy,” a spokesperson for the Albany-based law firm DeGraff, Foy & Kunz, which filed the lawsuit, told VICE News.

The attorney representing the teachers did not return a request for comment regarding the filing or about Morgan’s reported record of being disciplined by his former employer.

Earlier this month, Morgan pled guilty to both counts of unlawful surveillance. Morgan officially resigned Nov. 15 after being placed on administrative leave for nine months, a district spokesperson told the Times Union. He is scheduled for sentencing Jan. 25, 2023 and faces up to six years in prison.

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