A Texas high school choir teacher could face up to two years in prison if found guilty on a felony charge that he allegedly tried to secretly film a naked female student in a makeshift campus changing room.
Mayde High School Associate Choir Director Clarence Appleby III appeared in a Harris County courtroom Monday morning, October 10, to face the music after a 17-year-old female student and her mother accused him of illegally placing a video camera into a changing room. Prosecutors presented their argument on the incident which purportedly happened on the previous Friday.
The girl told police Appleby instructed her to try on three choir robes inside the storage closet he converted into a dressing room. He told her she had to “take off her bra and panties to make sure it fit correctly,” according to KTRK.
Prosecutors asserted Appleby secretly filmed the teenager after telling her to strip naked to try on the robes, KHOU reported. The teen apparently requested to change in a bathroom but Appleby told her to use the closet. Prosecutor Angela Weltin later told reporters that Appleby “instructed her that there were several sizes, to make sure she tried them all on” and to take off all her undergarments “to show no lines in the gown.” Weltin said the girl was in the process of changing into her third gown when she noticed a box, inside of which was a video recorder.
In the courtroom, prosecutors said the teen called her mother on her cell phone to ask for her advice on what to do. Allegedly, the girl’s mother told her to take the camera with her. Appleby noticed the camera and box were missing. According to prosecutors, he confronted her. She turned over the camera to him. Then, the teacher and the teen put the memory card in a school computer where the girl claimed she saw herself naked on video, also according to KHOU. The prosecution stated Appleby instructed her to delete the video, which she did.
Appleby was in his “fifth year of teaching vocal music to young adults” and his “third year as the Associate Choir Director” at Mayde High School, according to the school’s website, which since removed the now former choir teacher’s bio. Appleby previously taught choir in Oklahoma City at Hefner Middle School from 2012-13. Under his direction, four choirs received sweepstakes for two consecutive years. He was also a finalist for Teacher of the Year in 2013 while working at the Oklahoma middle school, according to the Katy ISD website.
Katy ISD campus police arrested Appleby, Friday, on the charge of felony improper photography. He bonded out of jail on $30,000 bail, and the school district fired him. On Saturday night, October 8, Katy school district officials issued a statement to Mayde High School parents:
Dear Mayde Creek High School Parents and Guardians,
Yesterday evening the Assistant Choir Director, Clarence Appleby, was arrested by the Katy ISD Police Department for alleged inappropriate use of a visual recording device on campus.
Appleby faces a state felony charge for invasive visual recording and was terminated immediately.
Thanks to the quick thinking of a student and a parent who informed the school, campus administration was able to work with the Katy ISD Police Department to arrest and charge Appleby.
Due to the nature of the incident, not much information can be disclosed at this time, as this continues to be an ongoing investigation, but please rest assured that the safety of all students is our top priority and such allegations are taken very seriously and investigated thoroughly.
Parents were shocked by the allegations against Appleby. One mother, Anessa Hall Joseph, told KTRK she hoped this was not true and that something positive would come from this situation.
When he first appeared in court on October 7, Appleby did so without an attorney, noted KHOU. His wife, also a choir teacher at a different school, accompanied him. His next court date is November 8. If convicted, he may face anywhere from six months up to two years in prison, said prosecutors.
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