BLUE EARTH — A former Janesville basketball coach and choir teacher is facing numerous felony charges after police say he used a disguised camera to film naked boys in a locker room.
Zachary Patrick Roberts, 28, was charged Monday with four felony counts of interfering with the privacy of a minor and four felony counts of stalking a minor with sexual or aggressive intent, according to a criminal complaint filed in Faribault County District Court.
The chain of events started Dec. 14, 2015, when the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton boys basketball team played a game against United South Central at the high school in Wells, according to the criminal complaint.
After the game, the Janesville team went into the locker room to shower and change before returning home. One of the players was looking for a pen to write down a play and got one from the gym bag belonging to Roberts, their coach. The player then discovered the pen was actually a camera, according to the complaint.
The players tried to view the files in the camera but couldn't. School authorities were alerted and initiated an internal investigation. As part of that probe, Roberts turned the camera over to school authorities, who in turn provided it to the Janesville Police Department.
The police chief, Dave Ulmen, viewed the files and found "significant evidence" on two. The first was 15 minutes and included footage of the pen camera being placed and manipulated so it was focused on the entrance to the showers, the complaint said. As the video continued, unclothed boys were seen going in and out of the shower, the complaint said.
The second file was 13 minutes and included more footage of unclothed boys. Toward the end of it, the video showed the players discovering the camera, the complaint said. The other files were either unremarkable or couldn't be accessed.
During an interview on Dec. 24, Roberts told police he bought the camera to film boys in the locker room. He also said he had done this 40 to 50 times in the past and "admitted he would then use the videos for self-sexual gratification," the complaint said.
Ulmen identified four of the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton basketball players in the footage. They were 14 and 15 years old.
Ulmen said the investigation took several months because the evidence had to be reviewed by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which works on all investigations into child pornography. A "significant number" of other electronics seized from Roberts, including flashdrives, external hard-drives, digital cameras, a laptop and a cellphone, were analyzed but did not contain incriminating material, Ulmen said.
"We had a significant amount of evidence that we had to take up there to be examined," Ulmen said.
Roberts, a Janesville native, worked as a choir teacher at the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton High School for six years. His last day with the district was Jan. 4, after the school board accepted his resignation, according to meeting records.
District officials sent out a recorded voicemail to Janesville parents about the investigation but did not name the teacher.
Roberts was a student council adviser and helped direct musicals and show choir for the district in addition to being a coach. He also served as a youth coordinator for St. Ann Catholic Church in Janesville.
Roberts is to make a first appearance in Faribault County District Court July 18. He could not be reached for comment Monday.
Faribault County Attorney Troy Timmerman said the charges fit the facts of a case involving electronic monitoring and differ from child pornography charges, which require that the images depict children engaging in a sexual act. He also said the school and police department conducted a thorough investigation and he does not expect further charges will be brought.