OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A former St. Thomas Aquinas choir teacher accused of child sex crimes is now facing more than 20 new charges.
Joseph Heidesch was last reported to be on leave, already faces four counts of sexual exploitation of a child and two counts of breach of privacy. St. Thomas Aquinas confirmed with FOX4 he is no longer employed by the school.
On Friday, Johnson County prosecutors charged the 45-year-old with 24 additional charges of breach of privacy.
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. Students say they’ve learned from detectives they were recorded making costume changes in the choir room and in his office, where female students were told it was safe to change.
“I trusted the defendant and that was a violation of trust,” one St. Thomas Aquinas graduate said.
“These girls have all been victimized and are afraid to use public restrooms change clothes,” one parent told FOX4.
The initial crimes are alleged to have happened between January 2019 and September 2021. The 24 new charges are alleged to have happened between August 2016 and October 2021.
Steve Howe, Johnson County district attorney, told FOX4 in October that police are trying to determine if this case affects more minors or, perhaps, more people who were recorded without their permission.
His next court appearance is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on June 23, 2022.
Heidesch is being held on a $250,000 cash bond. His attorney is asking for his bond to be reduced pointing out he’s already spent more than 250 days in custody and has no criminal history.
“I can’t imagine having to live in a world where he’s out of jail. I already don’t feel safe in public areas. Knowing he’s out of jail I’d just be living in a constant state of fear,” another graduate said.