Arrested St. Thomas Aquinas choir director facing sex crime, breach of privacy charges

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OLATHE, Kan. — A day after Shawnee police arrested a St. Thomas Aquinas High School teacher, Johnson County prosecutors filed four charges against Joseph Heidesch.

The choir director who’s now on leave faces two counts of sexual exploitation of a child and two counts of breach of privacy according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday.

His charges carry accusations of possessing images of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
According to court documents, he is also accused of installing a concealed camera to record images of two victims who were nude or partially undressed, so that he could view those images without the victims’ consent.

Heidesch, 45, is due to appear in court Thursday at 1:30 p.m. After previously being listed with no bond, FOX4’s John Pepitone reports it’s now set at $250,000. All of his charges are felonies.

It’s unclear from court records whether the teen is a student at the Catholic school. The crimes are alleged to have happened between January 2019 and September of this year. Shawnee police are handling the investigation, which is where Heidesch lives.

St. Thomas Aquinas President Brian Schenck sent an email to families following the director’s arrest:

This morning we learned one of our teachers, Choir Director Mr. Joe Heidesch, was arrested. Mr. Heidesch has been placed on administrative leave from Saint Thomas Aquinas pending a police investigation. We send this communication in the spirit of transparency and care for our community. 

We recognize while you may have questions, this matter is in the hands of civil authorities.  We will share additional information as we are able. Our focus at this point is to support the spiritual and academic needs of our students.   

With this type of news, it is important to assure our students their safety and well-being are our top priority.  We encourage you to take this opportunity to talk with your children and allow them to process the information in a safe and supportive environment.   

Please be assured the performing arts program will continue with our full support. While we are saddened and concerned by this development, we are reminded of the importance of our faith and of the strength of our community.   We care deeply about our students and will carefully monitor the situation and tend to their needs.  

Please keep our community in your prayers and know you are in ours.

FOX4 is following developments with this story and will report more as we confirm more details.

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