Judge throws out confession in teacher-pornography case

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Judge throws out confession in teacher-pornography case Chocolic 8/22/01 9:53 PM
By Associated Press, 8/22/2001 14:33
NASHUA, N.H. (AP) A judge says an eighth-grade teacher's confession that he
secretly videotaped pupils undressing and later threw the tapes away cannot
be used during his trial.

Superior Court Judge William Groff ruled Tuesday that police failed properly
to inform Paul Gagnon, 44, of his rights before getting a taped confession.

In that confession, Gagnon, a former teacher at Nashua Catholic Regional
Junior High School, said he had about 50 videotapes, according to testimony
during a hearing earlier this month in Hillsborough County Superior Court.
Gagnon also told detectives he had thrown out the tapes and cameras with the
trash, court records show.

According to court records, police found 119 videotapes, three video
cameras, various child pornography, female undergarments and other items in
a Dumpster outside the school.

Gagnon's lawyer, Eric Wilson, called it a major victory on one charge of
destruction of evidence, which grew out of the items found in the trash
after Gagnon learned police had been notified.

However, Groff said police searches of Gagnon's home and car were legal.
Gagnon still faces 31 charges of possession of child pornography that did
not involve pupils at the school.

Assistant County Attorney John Harding declined to comment on the rulings,
but said the case would continue. The trial is scheduled for September.

Gagnon was arrested after pupils found a camera hidden in a room in which
they changed for class skits.

Gagnon's lawyer argued that police never read Gagnon his Miranda rights,
informing him he had the right to a lawyer and that anything he said could
and would be used against him in court.

Gagnon read a copy of the Miranda rights and said he understood them, but
that waiver was limited to a written statement he made denying knowledge of
the video camera at the school, according to court testimony.

When detectives questioned him further, he admitted using the camera to
videotape children surreptitiously, court records show. When detectives
later told Gagnon he would be charged with a felony and then taped his
confession, they needed to read Gagnon his Miranda rights again but didn't,
Groff ruled.