Police in Washington State and RCMP officers are going through videotapes seized from a Delta schoolteacher who was arrested after a high-school wrestler alleged that a man was videotaping students in the shower.
Chi Yung Luu, 29, a teacher at Burnsview Secondary School in North Delta, was charged yesterday with 15 counts of voyeurism and is in custody in a Thurston County jail near Olympia, Wash.
His bail was set at $750,000 (U.S.).
Mr. Luu was arrested after a wrestler competing in a match at Tumwater High School near Olympia with western Washington students told police he saw a man taping students with a video camera wrapped in a towel. He told his mother about the incident. She contacted a coach who detained the suspect until police arrived.
Police say the videotapes show at least 15 boys in the shower. They said other videotapes were found in Mr. Luu's backpack and in his car that were taped at different competitive swimming and wrestling meets.
In an early morning search yesterday of the basement suite in Surrey where Mr. Luu lived alone, RCMP seized a computer and files and other personal items.
Police are going through the tapes to see if any young people in them can be identified so that authorities can contact their parents.
Tumwater police have reviewed several hours of tapes that were seized from Mr. Luu's car. Lieutenant Bruce Brenna of the Tumwater police said yesterday most of the tapes showed athletes in swimming and wrestling meets, either preparing for an event or just after. "It shows a pattern, but it's not illegal," the officer said.
Bob Kuehl, director of human resources at Tumwater School, said school officials will talk to students after the holiday break to answer concerns and see if anyone can provide further help to police.
"Someone coming into a public event like this and taking advantage and exploiting our students is both tragic and disturbing," Mr. Kuehl said yesterday.
Counsellors will talk to students and coaches, and teachers will talk to student athletes about how and when to report suspicious activities.
Police told a local newspaper that the student who reported seeing a man taping in the locker room saw the same man doing the same thing a year ago.
"Our investigation is ongoing. There may be additional charges," said Jodilyn Erikson-Muldrew, a senior Thurston County prosecutor.
The prosecutor, who heads a sex-crimes unit in Thurston County, described the allegations as unusual. "We definitely have not come across this fact pattern in a voyeurism case in our jurisdiction," she said.
Voyeurism charges are normally connected to the placing of hidden cameras in restrooms, the prosecutor explained. "What makes it unique is how brazen," it was, Ms. Erikson-Muldrew said.
Larry Kliparchuk, president of the B.C. Wrestling Association, said Mr. Luu is not registered as a coach and that he has never heard of him.
Mr. Kliparchuk said all high-school coaches go through a criminal record check.
"We cover a pretty broad base of what's legitimate, so the athletes know what's appropriate and what's not appropriate," he said. "I've never heard of this happening and I think it's surprised many people."
Vince Duronio, a parent whose two children attend Burnsview Secondary, said the French immersion school doesn't have a wrestling team.
Mr. Luu is a drama teacher and recently joined the faculty.
"I've only seen him at some school functions," Mr. Duronio said. "The other teachers seemed to be very happy with this fellow."
The president of Delta Teachers Association, Val Windsor, said the teacher has been suspended.
"All we know is these are allegations and the court needs now to do what it needs to do," she said.
Delta police Constable Kim Sheridan said the case has been handed over to the Integrated Child Exploitation Unit with the RCMP.
Mr. Luu's next court appearance is on Jan. 11 in Thurston County Superior Court. He will probably remain in custody until his trial because even if he posts bail on the criminal charges, he is also subject to a "detainer" order by U.S. immigration authorities.
Mr. Luu has not been charged in Canada. Two months ago, new Canadian Criminal Code offences related to voyeurism became law. It is now illegal to "surreptitiously" observe or make a visual recording of someone in circumstances that "give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy," when it is done for "a sexual purpose."
The new offences carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison if the Crown proceeds by indictment, or six months in the case of a summary conviction.