PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Attorneys for multiple voyeurism victims at Alki Middle School and Skyview High School in Vancouver are looking for answers from the district and investigators after a former employee was accused of hiding cameras in school bathrooms.
The suspect, James Mattson, was arrested in October and pleaded guilty to 137 counts of voyeurism. KOIN 6 News has learned some employees of Vancouver Public Schools, as well as people who attended VPS or have children who do, want to know if they or their children were caught on the hidden cameras. So far 137 victims have been identified, but detectives say evidence shows that show Mattson was making the secret recordings as far back as 2013.
Attorneys Ashton Dennis and Tom Vertetis are representing both the victims who’ve been identified and notified by law enforcement in the case, as well as others who want to know if they or their child were caught on camera in a school locker room or bathroom.
“We’ve had hundreds and hundreds of people reach out, and they all kind of have the same general questions, which is, ‘Am I a victim?'” Dennis said.
“It’s unsettling. And it also leads to more questions and answers,” added Vertetis. “The fear of the unknown is real and parents are very concerned for their children.”
Dennis and Vertetis sent the school district a notice of their intent to file a lawsuit but say the district hasn’t responded. They claim the district hasn’t been transparent with families since Mattson’s arrest.
“This is a school district. This is a public entity. The parents of these students pay for this school to be funded and they have the right to know what has happened. And maybe the underlying conclusions of the entire investigation, where the ball may have been dropped, they can’t share with us right now, but what are they doing to ensure the public knows that these victims are going to be notified?” Dennis said.
Sergeant Chris Skidmore with the Clark County Sherriff’s Office told KOIN 6 News their investigators worked with the district to identify victims.
“They were able to clean up the photos and make them so they were appropriate to be viewed, that they would be recognizable. Now, some of the images just because this was a discrete camera hidden away that it didn’t get clear pictures of people so some people they just weren’t able to identify,” Skidmore said.
The attorneys believe the VPS officials have an obligation to notify victims and answer questions from those who are concerned they could be a victim.
“From my perspective, the school district is aware and is concurrently conducting an internal investigation, and it would be in their best interest to make sure that the students and individuals that were under their care are informed and advised if they’ve been exposed, that’s part of getting closure and making sure that people are aware of what happened,” said Vertetis.
Skidmore says the amount of video evidence is so vast it will still take at least a year to comb through and try and identify everyone captured on it.
KOIN 6 News asked VPS for an interview, a spokesperson said they weren’t able to accommodate the request but sent this statement:
“This is a Clark County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) criminal investigation, and CCSO is solely in charge of the criminal investigation evidence, timeline, and appropriate next steps. VPS will not be notifying victims as we do not know who the victims are, and do not have access to the evidence that was recovered from the suspect’s home. Since we do not have information about who the victims are, we could not possibly determine who is not a victim either. I recommend you reach out to the CCSO for an interview and/or more information.“