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News / Clark County News

Former Vancouver Public Schools janitor pleads guilty to 137 voyeurism counts

Man admits taking secret videos at Skyview High School between 2013 and 2022

By Jessica Prokop, Columbian Local News Editor, and
Griffin Reilly, Columbian staff writer
Published: October 24, 2022, 4:44pm

A former Vancouver Public Schools custodian accused of secretly recording people in a women’s staff restroom at Skyview High School has pleaded guilty to 137 counts of first-degree voyeurism.

James D. Mattson, 38, of Vancouver entered the guilty pleas during his arraignment hearing Friday in Clark County Superior Court. All of the sex offenses occurred between Feb. 13, 2013, and Oct. 10, 2022.

In his statement on plea of guilty, Mattson admitted to recording people, and their intimate areas, without their knowledge or consent where they would have reasonable expectation of privacy.

Court records show Mattson’s standard sentencing range is 43 to 57 months; however, the prosecution said it is seeking a sentence above that range based on aggravating circumstances: Mattson committed multiple current offenses, and his high offender score results in some of the offenses going unpunished, and he used his position to commit the offenses.

A hearing to review the status of the pre-sentencing investigation is scheduled Dec. 20. In the meantime, Mattson, who’s been in custody since his arrest, is being held without bail.

“Vancouver Public Schools is aware that James Mattson has pleaded guilty to all 137 charges of voyeurism against him. We are in the process of consulting with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office to determine what the appropriate next steps will be,” the school district said in an email. “We will continue to support our students and staff with counseling resources and other services.”

The prosecution previously said most of the images investigators found showed people using a women’s staff restroom at the high school. There was also at least one video of a girl dressing in a Skyview locker room.

Mattson, who was a custodian at Alki Middle School, had access to all Vancouver Public Schools facilities. The school district previously said it had searched all district buildings and did not find any cameras.

In a video message Wednesday, Superintendent Jeff Snell said the district will periodically search restrooms, locker rooms and changing spaces for the foreseeable future, and look at prevention methods moving forward.

“We recognize the concern we all have about privacy and are saddened, frustrated and angry that a former employee’s actions have violated rights to privacy and the trust you place in us,” Snell said.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu previously said investigators seized multiple computers, two cellphones, 20 thumb drives, 25 SD cards and 14 mini SD cards from Mattson’s Hazel Dell house. He said deputies might still find more devices and that the 137 counts of voyeurism are just from the initial review of the devices.

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate and said it could refer additional charges against Mattson to the prosecutor’s office for review. There is no timeline for when the investigation will be complete, sheriff’s Sgt. Chris Skidmore said Monday.

“Nothing has changed, even though he pled guilty to those charges,” Skidmore said. “From our end, from the investigative piece … we still have an investigation to continue. We’re still looking at evidence, still combing through all of that stuff, like nothing has changed.”

In Snell’s video message, he said the district will continue to support the ongoing investigation.

Authorities have not yet begun the process of identifying victims, Skidmore said, and the sheriff’s office is working with Vancouver Public Schools on what that process will look like.

“We want to make notifications in the least impactful way, that doesn’t cause additional trauma or victimization,” he said.

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Snell said Wednesday law enforcement has asked for help with identifying victims using facial images.

“We will handle this process with care, respecting each individual’s confidentiality and privacy interests,” he said in the video message.

Investigation

According to court records, the criminal investigation began Oct. 5 after Mattson’s live-in girlfriend reported that she discovered a video on his computer of a girl changing clothes 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. Detectives said they later determined the video was taken at Skyview.

Deputies subsequently conducted searches at Alki and Skyview.

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.

While detectives were serving the search warrant at Mattson’s house, he called his girlfriend. She said he denied placing cameras in student restrooms, but he implied he placed them in staff restrooms, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Investigators noted in the probable cause affidavit an unsolved case from 2020, in which staff at Alki reported finding a toiletry kit in a staff restroom that had been modified to secrete a camera. Mattson was employed at Alki at that time.

On Oct. 10, Mattson’s girlfriend reported finding a stash of thumb drives and SD cards, along with a camera and a box of CDs, in the garage. She said she put one of the thumb drives into a computer and saw an image of a woman dressing in a public restroom. Investigators also determined that photo was taken in a staff restroom at Skyview, court records state.

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