OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A group of over 20 students and parents have now filed a sixth lawsuit against St. Thomas Aquinas High School and a former teacher.
Thirteen former Aquinas students, now adults, and nine of their parents joined together to sue the school and Joseph Heidesch.
Prosecutors charged Heidesch in October 2021 for secretly recording video of more than 100 girls at St. Thomas Aquinas.
Police first discovered Heidesch hid cameras in a home to record lewd images of people without their permission. During the investigation, investigators determined he also installed hidden cameras inside the school.
Investigators said they found Heidesch had catalogued videos and images of students who changed clothes in his office over many school years.
The former students in the lawsuit were all members of the school choir. According to the lawsuit, Heidesch required the students to wear choir robes instead of their normal clothing and made them change in his office.
The lawsuit says it was common knowledge among students and faculty that Heidesch required students to do so.
Heidesch filmed all 13 former students as they undressed on multiple occasions, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that St. Thomas Aquinas failed to stop Heidesch from requiring students to change in his office, which the lawsuit calls a “warning sign of grooming behavior by child sexual predators.”
The families also argue Aquinas failed to implement and enforce training and policies designed to identify and prevent sexual misconduct and failed to monitor Heidesch’s technology use.
This is the sixth lawsuit filed against the local Catholic school and the former teacher.
Heidesch pleaded guilty in December to one felony count of sexual exploitation of a child and 25 counts of breach of privacy as part of a plea deal.
As part of the plea deal, Heidesch was sentenced to more than five years in prison. He cannot request probation but did get credit for time served.
Heidesch will have to register as a sex offender after he is released from prison.