JACKSON TWP.: “It’s a horrible situation.”
Those words, spoken by parent Lisa Joy, were echoed in many ways through the Jackson Township Police Department conference room Wednesday afternoon as Chief Dave Zink informed the public about the early morning arrest of high school freshman basketball coach Scott D. Studer, 46.
A Jackson schools employee for 25 years, Studer was booked on six counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material, a second-degree felony.
Studer was being held at the Stark County Jail in lieu of a $2 million bond. He was expected to be arraigned today in Massillon Municipal Court. Maximum penalty, if convicted, is eight years in prison and a $15,000 fine on each count.
As Zink tried to control the session, parents were vociferous in their questioning of him and Superintendent Chris DiLoreto as to why they weren’t notified of the arrest and charges before their children arrived home from school with the news.
Authorities, who said Studer lived with his mother on Pin Oak Avenue Northwest, said he showed police and U.S. postal inspectors where to find the videos as well as the cameras that they believed were used sporadically during the past eight years — when Studer had access to the high school boys locker room and showers.
Zink said the cameras weren’t permanently installed in the facility, but were placed there when Studer had access.
The chief said it was undetermined how many boys might have been victimized by video recording or how much material police will have to go through to determine identities and notify the boys and their parents.
Some of the alleged victims now would be young adults, Zink said, because the tapings had occurred since at least since 2005. He said Studer was charged with one count for each year of the alleged activity.
Zink wouldn’t discuss the postal inspectors’ investigation, saying only that federal charges are expected and the local case was brought to light as part of a child pornography case.
Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero, who attended the conference along with assistant prosecuting attorney Chrissa Hartnett, said Studer has been cooperative throughout interviews and led authorities to the recording devices and videos.
“There is no evidence at this time, through Scott’s own admission, that he traded any of the images that he obtained with anyone other than himself,” Zink said.
“We are going to attempt to identify victims with the material we recovered. Only law enforcement people will be able to view the images, as this is evidence.”
Zink said his department had been involved in the case only since a search warrant was served shortly after 6 a.m. Wednesday.
DiLoreto said Studer, as a building aide, was responsible for having visitors sign in and out at the high school and had access to all monitors in the building.
“At 6 o’clock this morning we began to work collaboratively and collectively on Scott Studer,” DiLoreto said. “As we were moving forward, we were cooperating fully.”
He said Studer submitted his resignation as a building aide and freshman basketball coach Wednesday morning. DiLoreto said the resignation will be presented to the school board at Tuesday’s meeting.
He added that the district’s crisis management team would assist students today.
Disgruntled parents interrupted the speakers several times, saying they should have been notified of the arrest and charges.
Parent Shayne Rowlands said his son, Ohio University student Shayne Rowlands, played for Studer in 2008. A younger son played for Studer in 2010 and now attends Canton Central Catholic High School.
Asked his thoughts concerning Wednesday’s revelations, Rowlands said, “Obviously, are our boys in those videos? And what was occurring? I’m sure there are a lot of kids who can be interviewed, and I’m sure Chief Zink is going to do that — talk to some of the previous players and current players — so I guess that’s our major concern.”
Rowlands said that from what his sons said, the coaches could come into the showers since they are connected to the locker room, but he didn’t know if any coaches showered with players.
Parent Vicky Smith said she learned about the case when her freshman son, 15, a member of this year’s team, took her aside after he got off the bus and said, “I have some news for you.”
“Basically, he told me what happened and that it was already on the Internet.”
Smith said the school should have contacted parents directly at the time they found out about the charges.
“At least let us have the opportunity to pull our boys out of school if we felt we needed to or allow us to sit down and explain things to our child,” she said. “But to go all day long when there are officers in and out of the school and there are rumors flying, it just was not handled properly.”
Smith called the news shocking.
“I don’t want to speak for other parents. [Studer] bonded very well with my child and was very encouraging to him. ... Never anything like this.”
George W. Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.