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More charges filed against former East High teacher accused of secretly recording students

Published: Aug. 19, 2020 at 5:55 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A former Madison East High teacher accused of secretly recording female students during a Minneapolis field trip is facing new federal charges.

David M. Kruchten, 38 of Cottage Grove, is facing seven new felony counts of attempting to produce child pornography using hidden recording devices, bringing the total number of counts of attempting to produce child porn against him to 14, as well as an additional count of transporting minors from Wisconsin to Minnesota with the intent to produce child porn.

Federal prosecutors allege the incidents happened on four days over the span of a year: on Jan. 20, 2019; Oct. 27, 2019; Oct. 29, 2018; and Dec. 6, 2019. According to a news release Wednesday, federal authorities did not detail the three new incidents. The initial incident at the Minneapolis hotel allegedly occurred on Dec. 6.

If convicted, Kruchten faces a minimum penalty of 15 years and a maximum of 30 years in federal prison on each count in the indictment.

As NBC15 News has reported, Kruchten, who was a teacher at Madison East High School before resigning, was arrested on Jan. 30, 2019.

Prosecutors say Kruchten accompanied a field trip to a Minneapolis with students from the high school in December of 2019.

In the students’ hotel room in the city, prosecutors allege Kruchten hid three recording devices in a pair of air fresheners sitting on bathroom shelves and a smoke detector placed in the bathroom at shower height and facing the shower, according to a criminal complaint released in February.

The devices were reportedly discovered on Sunday, Dec. 8, when one of the girls pressed a button she thought would spray the room, but instead, the device opened up to reveal the hidden camera.

Investigators say Kruchten was the one who then took the air fresheners to the desk of the hotel where they were staying, the Hyatt Regency, at 1300 Nicollet Mall, in Minneapolis, early in that morning. Hotel staff recounted to officers he told them the devices were found in a cabinet. At the time, the police were not called.

It was after parents started calling and telling them that cameras were placed in various spots of their daughters’ hotel rooms and were put there the previous day that they realized they were the ones Kruchten had turned in, the report said.

When detectives spoke to Kruchten, he allegedly told him the students found the canisters and smoke alarm and mentioned thermostats he had taken off the walls. Investigators determined the alarm and thermostats were not turned in.

When they asked Kruchten, he reportedly claimed he gave them to a security guard and gave a description that did not match the security guards’ uniforms. Security also said they had no one dispatched to that floor that night.

According to a complaint, hotel security also ran an audit on hotel key cards and finding and finding a key given to advisors was used at times when the advisors knew the girls would not be there. There were also several unsuccessful attempts to access the rooms, indicating to investigators that, while the individual knew one of the keys would work, they did not know which one.

Hotel footage also allegedly showed that while Kruchten said he would hand in the canisters before midnight on Dec. 7, he did not actually make it to the hotel desk until after 1:30 p.m. Other cameras captured him outside in that time, walking with a box of air fresheners, police noted.

When detectives searched his phone, they found evidence he had gone to a website that sold devices similar to the ones used in the hotel room and they later said he had an account to be issued, the complaint said.

Kruchten resigned from his position at East High School in February of 2020. He remains in custody.

Kruchten pleaded not guilty to the seven initial charges.

A date has not been scheduled for his trial, which will take place before Chief U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson.

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