Chicago Tribune on 6/5/18 by Aprile Rickert
A former New Albany middle school administrator will serve jail time for voyeurism at school.
Paul Raake, a former vice principal at Scribner Middle School, where he was employed for more than 40 years, has been sentenced to one year in jail after pleading guilty to a level 6 felony for voyeurism.
Floyd County Circuit Court No. 3 Judge Maria Granger on Monday passed down the sentence after a hearing in which Raake willingly changed his former plea to one of guilty. He admitted to placing a camera in a student locker room, and recording four to five photos of students in partial dress or undress. Those images were later found on the school computers issued to Raake.
He resigned from the school in December 2016, when the case was first opened, and he was arrested the following September. He was released on a $1,500 bond the same day as his initial hearing, Sept. 12.
In October, attorney George Gesenhues filed on Raake’s behalf a motion for a change of venue, based on extensive coverage of the case in media and social media. A hearing on that motion was waived in January by the defense, and in April, an intent to plead guilty was filed.
Gesenhues on Monday called three character witnesses for Raake. Both his daughter and wife testified that they stood behind him and that family would stay strong through this.
“I took a vow 34 years ago…for better or worse,” His wife, Pam Raake, said in court. “This is not one of the betters, but I’m not giving up 34 years of marriage over one thing.”
She said that since the case has opened, she and her family have endured public harassment in the grocery store and in social media, and they’ve received threatening phone calls. Fake social media profiles have also been opened to further harass, she said.
Raake admitted early in the hearing that he’s in treatment for issues with depression stemming from the case.
“[This] is definitely the hardest thing that we have ever went through,” Pam Raake said about the family.
“We have stood together through thick and thin,” his daughter testified. She said that would “absolutely” continue.
A third character witness was David Adams, former principal of Scribner Middle School who retired in 2001.
He said that Raake had a strong, positive reputation that was widespread across the community, that he was a popular educator and very professional and well-prepared.
“He was very serious about his job,” Adams said in court, adding that the “concerns of the kids and the teachers was very important to him.”
When asked by Gesenhues of his knowledge of the case, Adams said he only knew what he had read in the newspaper and he hadn’t contacted Raake or the current administration with questions outside that. Adams said he had never been aware of any situation where the defendant had acted inappropriately during their many years working together.
In the sentencing portion of the hearing, Floyd County Deputy Prosecutor Melissa McDaniels addressed the judge with the aggravating circumstances that could affect the sentence; a level 6 felony carries between six months and two and a half years with an advisement of one year.
Among the factors the state offered were that Raake didn’t just use the camera, but also recorded and stored photos from it. She also asked the judge to consider the victims’ ages, potentially 11 to 13 years old, and noted his position of authority.
“Mr. Raake was in a position of having care, custody and control of the victims,” she said.
She recommended a one-year sentence and revocation of any teaching license. Indiana code does not list voyeurism as a felony that would necessarily lead to revocation of a license.
Gesenhues said he respectfully took issue with parts of that statement — the recording from the camera is an element of the crime to which Raake had admitted — not an additional factor.
He said while it is pertinent that Raake used his position within the school to be able to commit the crime, a line must be drawn between voyeurism and other sex crimes, because Raake had intended for this to remain private and had not contacted any of the victims.
Gesenhues also said it is a crime unlikely to recur; Raake is no longer employed by the district and would not have such access. The attorney further noted that his client has no prior criminal history and asked the judge to take into account the “multiple” letters of support sent by the community and Raake’s family, along with the testimony heard Monday.
Furthermore, Gesenhues said Raake has endured public punishment in light of the case, with information at times going beyond the facts of it. He requested that the sentence be suspended and served on probation.
Before passing down the sentence, Granger addressed Raake, acknowledging his years of service to the community. But she called the crime a “darker side” to his character, one that hadn’t been known. In addition to the sentence, Raake was ordered not to go back to teaching. While he can’t appeal the conviction due to the plea, he can appeal the sentence. Raake declined to say in court whether he would be seeking that, and declined to comment to media before and after the hearing, when he was taken into custody.
Marcie Jones, a parent of one of the students who found the hidden camera, was at the hearing. She said her son discovered his lock was missing from his usual locker, and found it on another normally unused one.
Jones said her son and other students opened the locker and found a camera, but it was gone after they had returned from swimming.
The mother left the hearing feeling as though some justice had occurred for the students.
“I’m glad that he admitted his guilt, that’s a start,” Jones said. “And I’m glad he’s getting a jail sentence out of it because I came here today thinking he was just going to walk away with probation. The way Indiana laws are written, he could have walked away with nothing, so I’m satisfied.”