NBC Philadelphia has reported that an arrested has been made of a former choir director for Central Bucks West High School located at 375 W Court St, Doylestown, PA 18901.
On Tuesday, February 8, 2022, 56-year-old Joseph Ohrt was arrested. Ohrt has been accused of secretly filming a former student while he undressed. The student and the high school teacher and choir director have a history that dates back as far as the 2014, while the student was a junior. Ohrt mentored the boy but often displayed inappropriate behavior to him, including hugging him from behind and telling him he loved him.
The two shared a hotel during a trip to a Broadway show in New York. The victim recalls the former director sharing a bottle of wine with him and them sharing the same bed. The advances increased when they took a choir convention trip to Kansas City. The victim alleged that they drank alcohol and smoked marijuana together. While they slept in the same hotel room, the victim said he awoke to Ohrt's hands down his pants and the director making sexual advantages toward him, to which he turned down. The close relationship continued and at one point the student lived with Ohrt, moving into one of the director's rooms.
The victim reported the misconduct to the police and an investigation began on May 9, 2021. During this time investigators attempted to speak with Ohrt by going to his home but no one was home so they left their card. Ohrt's new roommate found the card and approached the police on October 29, 2021. Ohrt had requested the man dispose of some of his property that the detectives found contained evidence of Ohrt secretly recording the former student, in addition to several pornographic images and videos. In the bag of belongings were four hidden camera devices, an external hard drive, a catholic schoolgirl uniform costume, a thong and boxer style underwear.
Police detectives are still investigating the evidence but believe there may have been additional victims. Ohrt is currently charged with one count of interception, disclosure, or use of wire, electronic or oral communications and four counts of possession, sale, distribution, manufacture, or advertisement of electronic, mechanical, or other devices and telecommunication identification interception devices in addition to invasion of privacy and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence.
Attorney contributor Brian Kent fights for the justice of sexual assault victims in Pennsylvania. Brian has years of experience as a school sex assault lawyer and recently explained when a high school could be sued by victims sexually assaulted by a choir director or teacher.
"Sexual assault varies from inappropriate sexual actions, like hugging to conversations sexual in nature, to full-on physical assault. Voyeurism is the enjoyment of watching others while they are naked can be a criminal offense if all parties are not willing involved. By secretly videotaping another party, the perpetrator is committing sexual abuse."
"Parents expect school officials to take on the role of parenting their children during each school day. This responsibility is not only a legal commitment but one of moral duty to ensure the children are safe from preventable dangers, such as sexual assault. Lately, there have been numerous reports about high school teachers and other staff members being charged with sexually assaulting students."
"It is the legal duty of the school officials to be aware of the risks but to also recognize signs of grooming and abuse within their faculty. Their job is to prevent abuse from occurring in the first place by implementing precautions. These measures should include vetting all school staff and teachers by conducting extensive background checks. Schools should also report known misconduct to law enforcement and investigate any incidents properly. Without a strong commitment to prevention, schools can be held liable for neglecting the student's safety."
"Victims sexually assaulted by their high school teacher or choir director are urged to speak with an experienced school sex abuse lawyer. Every state has different statutes of limitations that may affect a victim's rights to file a case against their victimizer or a negligent third party. Experienced lawyers will understand these regulations and any exemptions that may apply. In many cases involving school safety negligence, victims may be able to file a civil lawsuit and recover the compensation they deserve."