A Pennsylvania elementary school janitor allegedly left gifts, candy and notes for an 11-year-old girl as her “secret admirer” for a month and had more than 70 sexually explicit images of children on his phone, according to prosecutors.
Ethan Colpetzer, a 30-year-old janitor at Claysburg-Kimmel Elementary School, was arrested and charged with 75 counts of sexual abuse of children, as well as attempted corruption of a minor and copying obscene material.
He allegedly “singled out” a girl to other employees, asking for her name, and was allegedly caught by a faculty member taking photos of a student in the cafeteria, according to prosecutors in the Blair County District Attorney’s Office.
After a month of receiving secret gifts, the girl left a note for her “admirer” and asked what his name was. He wrote back, “Ethan,” which raised a teacher’s suspicion because there were no students with that name, prosecutors said.
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A school resource officer investigating the accusations found a “zoomed-in” photo of a girl bent over at the lunch table, according to the police report.
The school resource officer also allegedly found a picture of a nude, unidentified child, which prompted a multi-department child pornography investigation.
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Police executed a search warrant for Colpetzer’s phone and found 74 photos of “young children performing sexual acts,” according to prosecutors.
Police say Colpetzer admitted to saving the pictures from the internet and leaving the gifts for the 11-year-old girl, prosecutors aid.
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Police arrested Colpetzer on March 7. He was arraigned and placed in Blair County Prison with bail set at $100,000.
Claysburg-Kimmel School District officials said in a statement that Colpetzer was placed on leave from his job at the elementary school, which includes students in kindergarten through sixth grade.
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First Assistant District Attorney Nichole Smith told local news outlet WTAJ in a statement that “the safety of our community, especially our children, is one of the most important responsibilities we have as prosecutors.”
“As such, the prosecution of those who possess child pornography will always be a priority for the Blair County District Attorney’s Office,” Smith said. “Possessing such images is neither a minor offense nor a victimless crime. The District Attorney’s Office commends the Claysburg-Kimmel school staff whose vigilance and quick action allowed police to rapidly preserve and recover evidence.”
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“We are disturbed and disheartened by the information included in the allegations and wish to note that we have not received any further reports or other information suggesting that any Claysburg-Kimmel School District student was made subject to any form of inappropriate contact other than that which has already been reported,” school officials told WTAJ.
“We share in the District Attorney’s commendation of our staff whose vigilance and prompt reporting of the matter allowed for investigation and appropriate action to be taken as quickly as possible.”