Former Wisconsin high school teacher to serve 12 years in prison for secretly filming students

Regional News

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MADISON, Wisc. (WLAX) – A former Wisconsin high school teacher was sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison after he secretly filmed students.

David M. Kruchten, 39, who taught at Madison East High School, pleaded guilty in August to charges related to attempting to produce obscene depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct and transporting minors in interstate commerce with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. 

According to court records, the charges stemmed from a December 2019 school trip to Minneapolis arranged by Krutchen. During the trip, one of the students pressed down on an air freshener on the bathroom counter of her hotel room. When she pressed it, the device opened up and was revealed to be a surveillance camera. 

After the discovery of the first device, the students started going through their rooms and found additional air fresheners, a smoke detector, two alarm clocks and several thermostats that were all surveillance devices. 

Trusting Kruchten, the students turned over all the devices to him that night. He was later seen on hotel video appearing to dispose of the devices in trash cans around the hotel.

Kruchten lied to authorities and said he gave the devices to a security guard at the hotel.

During the investigation, multiple students provided pictures and videos that they had taken in their hotel rooms during other school trips to the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells and the Grand Geneva Resort in Lake Geneva. In the photos provided, multiple air freshener-type devices are visible on the bathroom countertops. 

In the same photos, digital clocks, thermostats and tissue boxes that were actually recording devices are also visible. The devices could be seen on the counter, on the toilet and on the wall. 

Kruchten used his personal credit card to reserve a suite at the Kalahari Resort in the Wisconsin Dells for trips in 2018 and 2019. He also determined which of the students stayed in this upgraded room were the recording devices were located. 

At sentencing, numerous victims and their parents told the Court how Kruchten’s crimes had affected them and their families. Victims reported betrayal, sadness and anger. Some reported fear showering in hotels and checking air fresheners in public bathrooms to ensure they were not recording devices. 

Parents also reported betrayal and guilt for allowing their children to go on trips with the defendant.

Following his prison sentence, Krutchen will be required to serve another 20 years of supervised release. 

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