According to WNCT, recording devices were found in a New Bridge Middle School classroom located at 401 New Bridge St, Jacksonville, NC 28540.
Video recording devices were found installed in Stephen J. Bera's classroom. After detectives seized the recording devices, they found that at least ten students were identified on the recordings. These videos showed students in different stages of undress within the classroom. However, officials are not sure why the students would be changing inside the traditional classroom.
On Thursday, April 28, 2022, Bera was arrested and is facing at least 19 counts for secretly recording the minors. He was taken back into custody on Friday despite being released on bond. Additoinal charges are being brought against the teacher as they continue to investigate. Anyone with knowledge about the recordings or who feel they were a victim of Bera is asked to contact the Jacksonville Police Department.
Bera gave his resignation on Friday from the Onslow County Schools system after being employed since 2007. He has worked at several schools within the district, including Hunters Creek Middle School, Northwood Park Middle School, Onslow Virtual School, and the most recent, New Bridge Middle School.
Attorney contributor Kristen Beightol often represents victims in North Carolina. As an experienced school sexual abuse attorney, Kristen helps them file civil lawsuits. During a recent discussion, she explained some of the legal options available to victims secretly videotaped while changing at a middle school.
"Sex abuse can come in many forms but may include anything sexual in nature that makes a victim feel uncomfortable. Illegally capturing photographic images for sexual gratification violates a victim. Victims of either crime should be aware of their legal rights for justice. Additionally, the perpetrator and any third party that allowed such victimization should be held accountable."
"Too often lately, there have been reports of school employees, teachers, and coaches sexually abusing students. School districts have a legal obligation to safeguard children from these dangers. A school should conduct frequent background checks on all employees, maintain a working security monitoring system, and investigate any reports of misconduct to reduce the risks of abuse."
"Victims may have legal options in both criminal and civil courts. A criminal investigation will help to bring charges against the perpetrator. However, victims may also have grounds to file a civil lawsuit. If the school failed to offer sufficient security measures to prevent the abuse, they could be held liable. These lawsuits can be filed in cases involving the school's negligence. Cases involving illegal video recording or sexual abuse are often complicated. Victims and their families are encouraged to consult with an experienced school sexual abuse attorney to learn more about the available legal options."