By Amanda Ensinger
A Franklin Township Trustee was accused of filming a township employee changing without their consent.
At a recent board meeting, trustee Don Cook asked trustee John Fleshman why a hidden camera was installed on township property.
“He had a hidden camera installed without permission and someone changes clothes in that room,” Cook said. “The camera was found when the employee looked up and saw it there.”
Trustee Ralph Horn acknowledged he was aware of the incident, but said he did not know a hidden camera was installed.
“I became aware of this after the fact,” Horn said. “The tape has now been destroyed.”
According to Fleshman, the camera was installed this past October and the tape was destroyed by the township’s tech person. Several township residents and leaders questioned why the video was destroyed and not turned over to the police, alleging it was against the law.
“The video should have been turned over to the police,” Cook said.
Fleshman, who is accused of installing the hidden camera, said it was not against the law to install the camera or destroy the tape per the township’s legal counsel, Brosius, Johnson and Griggs, LLC.
“Our attorney said nothing illegal was done and the tape could be erased,” Fleshman said. “Nothing was turned over to police because no criminal act was made. There was never criminal intent and no criminal act was done.”
Calls and email to Brosius, Johnson and Griggs, LLC., were not returned.
Fleshman further explained the reason the camera was installed.
“It was just a camera facing the backdoor; nothing more,” Fleshman said. “There have been township files that have come up missing and we needed to find out who was stealing from the file cabinet.”
Fleshman said the files that were missing were his notes from the meetings, as well as handouts given to him by residents and organizations. Fleshman said he would use these notes to reference conversations he had.
“A resident asked me a question about something that was decided at a meeting and I went to grab a piece of paper to reference from that meeting and the whole file was gone,” Fleshman said. “Then about a week or so later, the file was back, but some materials inside the file were missing.”
According to Fleshman, the tech employee installed the camera in a heating vent and he forgot about it. He said it was never his intent to make the camera hidden, but when the tech person installed it in the heating vent, he decided that was an OK spot for the camera.
“I want to be as transparent as possible about this,” Fleshman said. “It was never my intent to put a hidden camera in and the sole purpose of putting this camera in was to keep the township secure.”
However, Fleshman said the trustees have the authority to install the camera where they see fit.
Horn said he believes Fleshman and said the intention of the camera being installed has nothing to do with an employee changing in the room and he believes Fleshman did not know this employee changed in there until after the fact.
“Some of this was a misunderstanding,” Horn said.
Cook also questioned how the installation of this camera was paid for without a resolution.
Fleshman said that because it cost less than $1,000 to install the camera no resolution was required.
“I spoke to our attorney about this and he said this is 100 percent legal,” Fleshman said. “Everything was done by the book.”