|Updated: 6/15/2012 10:36 am
||Published: 6/14/2012 12:00 pm
A Sapulpa coach accused of videotaping nude girls in high school has been arrested for child sex crimes.
Police said after they discovered video of underage girls naked on camera in the Sapulpa Public School Indoor Softball Training Facility they found more evidence in his home.
Howard H. Harjo, 54, admitted to hiding cameras in the trash can of the girls softball locker room.
"It is still ongoing and there are a lot, a lot of potential victims, a lot of potential witnesses. Right now we just don't know who that is. You just have to be patient with us. We are asking everybody, especially the parents and the potential victims as we uncover the facts," said Sapulpa Police Captain Bret Bowling.
Sapulpa School Superintendent Mary Webb, Ph.D. said Harjo was employed by the school but did not teach classes.
Webb said Harjo had been the softball coach with the school since February 2008. An arrest affidavit said Harjo admitted to recording the girls in the locker room since July 2009.
On Wednesday, an employee found a camera in the trash can inside the the softball facility. On Wednesday night Harjo was arrested and now faces charges of using electronic or video equipment in a lewd manner and child pornography.
"He admitted to investigators that he placed the cameras for the purpose of recording the girls,” said Bowling.
In the arrest affidavit, “Harjo confessed to recording the juvenile girls for his own sexual gratification.”
Police said two cameras were found in the same trash can that had a hole in it facing the bathroom stall.
"It's very sickening,” said Sapulpa parent Stephanie Brown.
She didn’t know Harjo or the softball players.
"It's just sickening I can't imagine how the parents and the girls themselves feel so violated,” said Brown.
A parent of one of the softball players spoke to FOX23 News off camera and said she and her daughter are devastated. She said Harjo was someone they trusted and liked.
The affidavit reported, “That the video recording shows Harjo disguising the video camera, placing the camera in the restroom and adjusting the angle of the camera.”
"The cameras were placed in a position to record the girls as they were partially undressed,” said Bowling.
Both of the cameras showed lewd images of underage girls using the bathroom.
“That stored on the camera’s internal SD card were multiple videos of juvenile girls in the bathroom stall," reported in the affidavit.
The report also stated that several images were of nude underage girls from the waist down.
"Right now we have to process a lot of the evidence and we have a lot,” said Bowling.
School Superintendent Webb said counseling is being offered to the players and they are cooperating with police.
"It's very disappointing, it's something you hope never happens,” said Webb.
Webb said Harjo has been relieved of his duties.
Police said only members of the softball team had access to the softball center.
However, after a search warrant in Harjo’s home they found more evidence and possibly more charges could be filed.
"There is a possibility that it could be other locations but right now we cannot confirm that,” said Bowling.
Webb said when Harjo was first hired he went through an OSBI background check and there were no red flags. Harjo also passed a background check done by police using a federal search.
The superintendent said they will be more vigilant in the future.
“We will be more careful probably to look in trash cans, ceiling tiles, edges of walls, to be more alert,” said Webb.
The District hired new head coach Stan Irvine on Tuesday. He is employed by the district but does not teach in the class. Bruce Plummer remains an assistant coach.
Harjo also coached a competitive softball team called the Oklahoma Diamondbacks from Sapulpa.
Right now the only allegations stem from the cameras in the school’s softball facility.
Police are working to identify the victims and other potential victims.
Child pornography offenses carry a maximum of 20 years in prison and lewd taping carries a maximum of five years.
As of Friday morning, Harjo was still in the Creek County jail. Each charge has a $25,000 bond. He is being held on a total of $50,000 bond.
In 2000, Harry "Noonie" Red Eagle, Jr. was given 20 years probation after pleading no contest to lewd acts to a child under age 16.
He was arrested in August 2000. Red Eagle was the girl's basketball coach in Skiatook and accused of secretly videotaping the girls in the locker room.
Video showed underage girls in various states of undress and red eagle adjusting the camera.