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Schools in Tennessee Sued for Placing Cameras in Middle School Locker Rooms

Aired July 2, 2003 - 13:10   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Now back to our top story -- one that's ticking off a lot of parents in Tennessee. Hidden cameras in a locker room in a middle school. Jack Lowery is an attorney representing one of the basketball teams that used the locker room at that school. He joins us now live from Nashville. Thanks for being with us, Jack.
JACK LOWERY JR., ATTORNEY: No problem. Thank you, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, first of all, can you legally put security cameras in a middle school locker room?

LOWERY: It is our position -- there is no law that we know of specifically. But it is our position that that is something that you just do not do and through other cases, we have, that it is standard procedure that you would not put cameras in a place where someone has an expectation of privacy, such as a locker room.

PHILLIPS: All right, you say standard procedure. But is it a law? Did the school break the law by putting those hidden cameras in there not telling kids or parents?

LOWERY: No, there is no law on the books for Tennessee nor is there a federal law. There are certain laws, if they intended to place it for certain intended purposes, that it could be a criminal act. But in this case, nothing has risen to a criminal act at this date.

PHILLIPS: Have representatives from the school said to you this is why we've put the cameras in there? Look, we've got an issue with drug use or with larceny? Was there an issue at hand?

LOWERY: Actually, we've given them ample opportunity, and we have not received any sufficient explanation, nor any explanation as to why the cameras were placed in the locker room, nor can we think of any conceivable, reasonable explanation why someone would place a camera in a locker room, especially of 10, 11, 12, and 13-year-old children that are changing.

PHILLIPS: All right, now I was reading here that the images were reportedly accessed 98 times between July 2002 and January 2003. I'm talking about the images that were stored in a computer there, I guess a computer of the assistant principal. And that sometimes late at night, early in the morning, and through Internet providers in Clarksville and Gainsboro and Rock Hill, South Carolina. What's the story here? Who is accessing these images? And why were they stored on the computer of this assistant principal?

LOWERY: We don't know who actually accessed the images at this point. That is something we will hope to discover as we go through the discovery phase of this matter.

The way the school had this system set up -- it was a network that could be accessed outside of the school through a dial-up provider, if a person had one. They had a software that had a security system that you had to enter that was left at the default password.

And it was placed on the network -- it wasn't necessarily the principal's computer, but it was a network computer there in the school, where these images were stored, I'm assuming they stored all images from all electronic surveillance, so that they could go back and review it if they ever needed to. And it was at this place that the access was made into this computer.

PHILLIPS: Is there a concern that these images could have been used for something else, being sold or transferred or anything of that nature?

LOWERY: Obviously, that is the concern of our parents and these children and our concern, that our proof shows, we feel that it was the access at odd hours of the day, early in the morning. And certainly the places it was accessed from, outside the state and from distant -- long distances within the state, we can think of no conceivable reason, nor has any been given, as to why someone from that area would need to access this computer.

PHILLIPS: And finally, Jack, before I let you go, I was reading the cameras had been installed in several other Overton County schools. Is that true? And are all these cameras up and running right now?

LOWERY: We do not know if all the cameras are still up and running. It is our information and belief that when Livingston (ph) installed these schools it was something that was done countywide throughout Overton and in all of the schools.

PHILLIPS: All right, Jack Lowery. We'll continue to check in with you and find out what happens. You'll keep us updated, right?

LOWERY: Yes, ma'am. Thank you, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Thanks, Jack. You bet.


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