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Complaint: Cameras in student rooms were hidden inside air fresheners

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MINNEAPOLIS (WKOW) -- Hidden cameras discovered in the rooms of students during a DECA trip to Minneapolis in December were hidden inside air fresheners and smoke detectors, prosecutors say.

David Kruchten, 37, a Madison East High School teacher and adviser for the group has been charged in federal court with seven counts of attempting to use a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of the conduct. He pleaded not guilty.

A separate complaint has been filed in Hennepin County Court following the December DECA trip.

The students had arrived at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Minneapolis on Friday, Dec. 6 for a conference.

On Sunday, Dec. 8, the day the students were to return home, the hotel was called by parents of the students who told them several surveillance cameras were found placed surreptitiously in the rooms in the evening of December 7, 2019, according to a criminal complaint filed in Hennepin County Court.

When officers arrived to interview the students, they learned that three devices were found.

Earlier, two automatic air fresheners were found and one smoke detector that was affixed to a wall in the bathroom of a group of juvenile females, according to the complaint.

One of the students noticed an air freshener on her bathroom counter and went to press a button that she believed would activate the spray.

When she pressed it, the device opened up to reveal the inner workings of a surveillance camera and other related electronics, according to the complaint.

The device was brought to the attention of the advisers and all of the affected rooms were searched for additional devices.

When interviewed by investigators, Kruchten told them he had told officers that they had located two air fresheners and a smoke detector. He also mentioned that he had removed some thermostats from the walls in the rooms of the victims.

Students told investigators that they had given the devices to Krutchen.

Surveillance video footage shows evidence of the defendant, rather than going directly to the front desk, walking on the exterior of the hotel prior to going to the lobby.

Investigators say the defendant had ample time outside to conceal or destroy the items.

As part of the investigation, officers seized and searched the defendant’s cell phone.

Contained in the internet history were records showing that the phone visited a website for a company that sold electronic equipment similar to the equipment found in this case.

According to the complaint, the investigation revealed that the defendant had an account with said company and that his account purchased surveillance cameras built to look like smoke detectors, air fresheners and thermostats. These items were consistent with the devices described by the victims.

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Dan Plutchak

Social Media and Digital Content Manager, 27 News

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