|Updated: 6/15/2012 6:24 pm
||Published: 6/15/2012 6:12 pm
The softball coach accused of hiding cameras in the team’s locker room is still in jail.
Howard H. Harjo, 54, confessed to police he secretly put two cameras in a trash can in the Sapulpa School Softball Facility and recorded the female players going to the bathroom.
Police are working to identify the girls whose privacy was violated.
Nationally known child abuse expert Sharon Doty said this type of abuse is just as serious as physical abuse.
"This kind of violation has a long term emotional impact that is almost not measurable because it's so distinct for each one,” said Doty.
She said teens start to develop trust to determine who is trustworthy.
In this case, it was Harjo who was well liked and respected.
Court records show Harjo admitted to taping the girls for sexual gratification.
Doty said that trust was wiped away when Harjo admitted to the crimes.
Police said the video showed Harjo on camera adjusting the camera angles to face the bathroom stall.
"It's unbelievable to us that a human being that we trust would do that,” said Doty.
She said the psychological trauma can be more damaging than physical abuse.
"These girls who now have had a really powerful relationship with this coach are likely now going to be saying to themselves: ‘what is the basis on which you determine someone is safe? I thought I could trust someone I know,'” said Doty.
The uncertainty of who is on the video may not be measured.
Harjo told police he’d been taping the players since 2009 in the locker room. That is three softball teams that could be on camera.
Police said some of the pictures are blurred and some of the victims cannot be identified.
Detectives do not anticipate the potential victims will have to identify themselves on the video.
"Some of them will never know if they are on the video. But the trauma is still there because it doesn't matter if there is an actual picture of them. What matters is that somebody violated their space,” said Doty.
For the parents who trusted Harjo and are outraged, which Doty said is a normal reaction, she recommended that parents be cautious of how they react and try and put their child’s feelings first.
"Listen. Do not ask them any questions,” said Doty. "Don't make excuses for anything and do not tell them it is not important, it's not a big deal, you really didn't get hurt. Yes, you did,” said Doty.
Doty said in one case a parent asked their child who was victimized to write a letter. When the parent read it that encouraged the victim to verbally talk about the situation which helped the healing process.
Harjo coached competitive softball for the Oklahoma Diamondbacks from Sapulpa.
Right now the allegations against Harjo are associated only with the hidden cameras at the Sapulpa Softball Facility.
Police also seized computers, cameras, and cellphones from Harjo’s home.
The computers will be sent to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations for forensic analysis which could take several months.
Investigators also found photos of girls in the stands at baseball games.
Harjo is still in jail and being held on $50,000 bond.
Harjo faces child porn and electronic “Peeping Tom” charges.
The Sapulpa School Superintendent said Harjo’s background check was clean and it was also clean when police ran a federal search. Harjo has been fired.
The case against Harjo reminds some of a similar case.
In 2000, Harry “Noonie” Red Eagle Jr., was the girls basketball coach at Skiatook High School. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 20 years probation for secretly taping the girls’ basketball team.
After that case, legislators strengthened the electronic “Peeping Tom” law to a felony offense.