NORTHFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — The investigation into illicit bathroom cell phone recordings at Sunset Ridge Middle school now shows a device was placed in more than one location, a source tells CBS 2.
As CBS 2’s Chris Tye reported, initially, school officials said David Garcia-Espinal placed a cellphone camera in a staff bathroom that was also on occasion used by students. New video evidence shows recordings were made in at least one girls’ bathroom in September as well. CBS 2 contacted detectives and they declined to comment.
Students were recorded on video in both the bathrooms. Police have asked parents to identify their children on the videos.
The source, who is a father whom we’ll call Kevin, contacted the school superintendent last Tuesday and told him the video showed their child sitting on the toilet in the student bathroom.
“I said the to the detective, my daughter never used the faculty bathroom, that is what they’re reporting,” Kevin, who asked not to have his real name used, told CBS 2’s Chris Tye. “And he said, ‘Well, the camera was not in the faculty bathroom.'”
Police told Kevin his daughter was recorded in an upstairs girls’ bathroom. Prior to Wednesday, that had not been shared, and the running theory had been that Garcia-Espinal was limited to a bathroom for staffers.
“I feel disgusted,” he said.
Kevin also noticed something else on those still images.
“It identified that this incident took place in September,” he said.
He added: “They haven’t told the community that this was going on for several months, which we have proof of, since my daughter was identified in September. And it could have been going on longer. I don’t know.”
In an email to CBS 2 on Wednesday, Supt. Ed Strange said, “As this situation is still under an active investigation, the District has no public comment to make at this time.”
On Thursday, Strange sent a letter to parents and staff, stating: “To be clear, we have shared everything the police have told us about this incident, and at this stage of the criminal investigation, it is irresponsible for the District to share information that hasn’t been provided to us or verified by police.” (Read full letter below.)
The camera in the staff bathroom was found about two weeks ago.
“I think it’s a cover-up,” Kevin said. “It’s gross negligence on their part, and they’re trying to cover this up. … Our children were violated, and I’m disgusted by it.
Police have tried to find Garcia-Espinal, 40, since they checked out the phone – but he has already disappeared.
Police released a mugshot from one of Garcia-Espinal’s prior arrests.
The cellphone camera was found “hidden and recording from a trash can” in a staff-designated bathroom around 4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, according to a letter to parents.
Garcia-Espinal had been at Sunset Ridge since 2015, holding two jobs at the school since 2016 through two different companies.
He was a cook through OrganicLife, and a custodian through Smith Maintenance Company in the evenings, the school district said in the Q&A communication to parents.
Court records showed Garcia-Espinal pleaded guilty to identity fraud in Glenview in 2012 and was sentenced to probation, and was also fined for violating his probation in 2013. When he was arrested for the movie theater incident, the officer found three different Social Security cards, three different permanent resident cards and two different resident alien cards.
But Garcia-Espinal still passed background checks, according to the district.
Glenview Police tell CBS 2 that their records show they charged Garcia-Espinal with a misdemeanor for public indecency. However, that charge was never recommended for prosecution. Prosecutors pursued only the fraud charge to which Garcia-Espinal pleaded guilty.
It remains unclear why the fraud conviction was missed by the background check done by a company hired by the school. School officials say they had no prior complaints about Garcia-Espinal.
“This story is getting bigger and bigger, and I’m sure there’s going to be more victims that have the courage to come forward and tell their story of hurt,” Kevin said.