Madison teacher accused of secretly filming students on trip allowed to travel home with victims

Molly Beck:

A Madison teacher charged with trying to create child pornography was allowed to travel home from an out-of-state trip with students who found hidden cameras in their hotel bathrooms and the victims’ parents haven’t been told why.

Madison School District officials won’t say whether they knew about the discovery of the cameras before David Kruchten, the accused teacher, and the students boarded a bus to travel back to Madison from Minneapolis for a Dec. 6-8 business club trip.

And police aren’t saying whether they suspected Kruchten before he and the students left Minneapolis in one vehicle to travel together for hours.

“Due to this being an active investigation, the district is not able to comment on the particulars of the case,” district spokesman Tim LeMonds told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder said he couldn’t release details of whether officers contacted the district about the potential of Kruchten’s involvement before the group departed the city, but said the department ensured the students weren’t in danger. 

“We knew that by releasing him we weren’t jeopardizing anybody,” Elder said. “The safety of the children is absolutely the number one thing and each decision, as we moved through this case, we made sure in fact the children were safe.”

Kruchten is accused of secretly filming teenage students on three school-related trips during 2019. He was indicted in federal court in January over incidents in January and October of 2019 and charged Wednesday in Hennepin County, Minnesota, with hiding cameras in students’ hotel rooms during the Minneapolis trip. 

LeMonds said district officials haven’t interviewed Kruchten or anyone else about the incident because the Wisconsin Department of Justice asked them to hold off on investigating the incident until the criminal prosecution is complete. 

DOJ spokeswoman Gillian Drummond said the department did not order the district to stop its own investigation, but typically recommends that to make sure internal reviews do not affect a criminal prosecution.