Ex-teacher faces 675 years for videotaping kindergartners

(Source: Ashland County)

A former teacher charged with spying on kindergarten students in an elementary school bathroom has been found guilty in an Ashland County Common Pleas courtroom.

Elliot Gornall was charged with 181 counts in connection to secretly recording kids at R.F. McMullen Elementary School. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigationsays the pinhole camera was disguised as a coat hook in the bathroom.

Gornall waived his right to a jury trial and changed his plea from not guilty to no contest.

As Judge Ronald Forsthoefel listed his crimes, he wanted to make sure Gornall knew what he was doing by pleading no contest and being found guilty.

“You understand that I will then be able to sentence you to whatever I believe is an appropriate sentence?” asked Forsthoefel.

“Yes,” Gornall responded.

By pleading no contest rather than guilty, Gornall is preserving his right to challenge the judge’s ruling that allowed evidence of videos police found on his computer to be used against him. Police had seized the computer to investigate his online drug purchases and saw the videos. Gornall resigned amid drug charges in 2014.

Gornall believes it was an improper search. Ashland County prosecutor Christopher Tunnell disagrees.

“If the officer is allowed to be in the place that he is at the time he sees criminality, then you can’t fault him for seizing that evidence,” Tunnell explained.

Parents of kindergarteners involved have a keen interest in the case and wonder where the videos are and who has seen them. Investigators say there is no evidence the videos were ever shared or made it online. While they are locked up as evidence for now, they will eventually be destroyed.

The judge set Gornall’s sentencing for a later date. He faces up to 675 years and 6 months in prison.

 

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