Smiths Station High School teacher under investigation for criminal surveillance

Updated: Aug. 31, 2020 at 7:38 PM CDT
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SMITHS STATION, Ala. (WTVM) - An investigation into a teacher at Smiths Station High School is underway by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

There have been no charges taken against the teacher yet, but this individual is being investigated for allegedly committing “criminal surveillance,” in other words, possessing videos or pictures of someone without their knowledge.

The County School District identified the teacher as Smith Station High School media instructor, Jason Lee. Lee has been placed on administrative leave while the sheriff’s office conducts an in-depth investigation into the matter.

Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said multiple tips from former high-school students reported in early July of this year led them to open the investigation.

“The reports suggest a possible circumstance of criminal surveillance,” Jones said.

The reports date back to incidents occurring during the 2018-2019 school year.

Jones said no charges or warrants have been taken against Lee at this time.

“No charges have been filed, no warrants have been issued. The investigation is ongoing, but it may take some time to complete,” he said.

Criminal surveillance is defined as any “unwarranted recordings of either video or pictures without the permission of the person being recorded.”

According to Alabama state law, criminal surveillance and aggravated criminal surveillance are misdemeanor charges that could impose jail time and fees.

Jones said the penalty for those crimes could be higher if underage minors are involved.

“If you bring into the fact that there are any underage individuals involved, then there are different statues in the state of Alabama that apply that could lead to other charges if and depending upon if the evidence indicated in a criminal surveillance circumstance,” Jones said.

Another individual employed within the district is also on administrative leave for an unrelated incident. Brian Nelson resigned as a co-athletic director. Jones said there is no correlation to the ongoing investigation with Lee.

The Lee County School District has declined to comment regarding the on-going investigation.

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