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Feb. 5, 2023

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Vancouver schools custodian arrested on 137 counts of voyeurism

Arrest stems from ongoing investigation at Alki Middle School

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor
Published:

An Alki Middle School custodian, who’s the subject of an ongoing voyeurism investigation, was arrested Thursday after investigators reported finding 137 videos he had allegedly secretly filmed in female staff restrooms at Skyview High School since at least 2013.

James D. Mattson, 38, of Vancouver was booked into the Clark County Jail on suspicion of 137 counts of first-degree voyeurism, according to a news release from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. He is scheduled to appear on the allegations Friday morning in Clark County Superior Court.

Vancouver Public Schools said Thursday that Mattson is on unpaid leave, pending termination proceedings. The school district previously said he had been stripped of access to district systems and buildings.

“Vancouver Public Schools is aware of the arrest of a former VPS employee accused of voyeurism. We continue to work closely with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office to support their investigation,” the school district said in an email Thursday. A letter was also sent to families.

Mattson had worked for Vancouver Public Schools since April 5, 2007, when he started as a substitute custodian. He had been the building operator for Alki since the 2018-2019 school year and also served as Alki’s assistant flag football coach for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years, according to the school district.

According to court records, the criminal investigation, which came to light last week, began after Mattson’s live-in girlfriend reported that she discovered a video on his computer of a girl changing clothes in a locker room.

Detectives seized several of Mattson’s electronic devices, including computers, while executing search warrants at his Hazel Dell house. Deputies also searched at Alki and nearby Skyview, because of the fact Mattson had also spent time at the high school.

None of the involved victims have been identified yet. The sheriff’s office said detectives will work with Vancouver Public Schools once the investigation is complete to try to identify the victims.

The sheriff’s office’s Major Crimes Unit is still investigating, and additional charges are possible.

“As has been previously stated, these types of investigations involving digital forensics are complex. They require time to process the type and amount of evidence involved,” the sheriff’s office said in the news release.

District officials announced last week they were searching locker rooms and restrooms throughout the district, in light of the investigation. The school district on Wednesday told The Columbian it completed searches of all of its building on the evening of Oct. 6 and did not find any cameras or active recording devices.

“Our students and staff and their safety are at the heart of everything we do. We will continue to support our young people and staff by making counselors available, and fully cooperating with the law enforcement investigation,” Thursday’s statement reads.

According to the district, Mattson also worked as a custodian for the 2008-2009 and 2014-2015 school years at Skyview; as a custodial assistant for the 2015-2016 school year at Vancouver School of Arts and Academics; as swing lead for the 2016-2017 school year at Jason Lee Middle School and as building operator for the 2017-2018 school year at Lincoln Elementary School.

Investigation

According to a search warrant affidavit, the investigation began Oct. 5 after a woman told detectives she had moved in with Mattson about two to three months ago. That morning, she woke up after he left for work, walked by the computer room and saw his computer was open, she said. She sat down and started looking through files, she said, and found a video of a girl dressing in a locker room. The video appeared to be from a hidden camera, placed low to the floor and pointed upward at a high angle.

After discovering the video, the woman called Mattson and said, “Tell me that’s not Alki.” The woman said Mattson told her he had placed a camera in the locker room because there had been problems with theft. When she confronted him about that being a lie, he allegedly said, “It’s not sexual. I don’t do anything with them. It’s about having them,” the affidavit reads. He also allegedly told her, “I have a problem.”

Reporter Griffin Reilly contributed to this report.

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