Texas school-lunch employee planted secret camera in boys' bathroom, police say

A janitor discovered the hidden camera while replacing toilet-paper dispensers at the school in El Campo, Texas, authorities said.

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By David K. Li

A hidden video camera was found planted in an elementary school's boys' bathroom, leading to a school-lunch employee's arrest, police in Texas said Thursday.

Scott Gelardi, 42, was charged with three criminal counts — improper photography in a bathroom, possession of child pornography and possession of child pornography with intent to promote, a Wharton County jail official said.

The hidden camera was discovered by a janitor who was replacing toilet-paper dispensers at Northside Elementary School in El Campo, Texas, authorities said. The school is about 70 miles southwest of downtown Houston.

Investigators matched time stamps on the camera's footage with the school's own surveillance cameras, leading to the suspect, officials said. His face was also captured in an image on the surreptitious camera, authorities said.

Gelardi was arrested Tuesday morning as he showed up for work.

"We have a lot parents concerned there might have been physical contact between he and the students," Director of Public Safety Terry Stanphill told NBC News on Thursday. "But at this point in time, there is absolutely no evidence that he was."

A schoolwide search has not turned up any more cameras, according to Stanphill.

"The school has searched every bathroom, every locker room multiple times and have found nothing," Stanphill said.

Geraldi was an employee of Philadelphia-based catering giant Aramark and was in charge of food purchasing for the school, according to police.

Aramark said Geraldi, director of Northside Elementary's food service program, passed a background check before he was hired.

"Yesterday we were made aware of very disturbing allegations involving one of our employees," according to a company statement on Thursday.

"We immediately launched an investigation and terminated his employment. The employee passed a background check, including a sex offender registry check, prior to starting work in the El Campo ISD. We are fully cooperating with the authorities on their investigation into this matter."

Geraldi, who lives in Rosenberg, Texas, was still in the Wharton County Jail on Thursday, held in lieu of $70,000 bail. Authorities said they did not know if Geraldi had hired an attorney yet.

And it wasn't immediately clear how many boys might have been recorded, or if Geraldi distributed any of the material, according to Stanphill.