TAYLORSVILLE, N.C. — A 33-year-old Taylorsville man pleaded guilty Monday in Alexander County Superior Court to six counts of felony indecent liberties with a child and 15 counts of felony secret peeping.
Michael Justin Childers was given an active sentence of 6 ½ to 12 ½ years in prison, followed by a suspended sentence of 5 to 17 ½ years, along with three years of supervised probation.
The judge also issued a permanent No-Contact Order with his victims.
Childers is also required to register on the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry upon his release from prison.
Childers was initially charged in December 2020 in connection with a hidden camera that was discovered in a faculty restroom at Wittenburg Elementary School. The Taylorsville Police Department also charged Childers with numerous counts involving a similar incident at Walmart in Taylorsville.
After his arrest, he was jailed under a $1.38 million secured bond and faced more than 100 charges, Alexander County Sheriff Chris Bowman said.
An investigation started in December 2020 after a small camera was found hidden inside a bathroom at Wittenburg Elementary where Michael Justin Childers worked as a custodian, according to authorities.
After seizing his computers, deputies said they found videos that appeared to be taken between 2016 and 2019 while he was an employee at a Taylorsville Walmart.
“I don’t think that is anything anyone would think about happening,” shopper Jasmine Kerley said. “It’s not something I would think of walking in the store.”
Authorities said some of the images from the store are of children as young as 8 years old and adults up to 70 years old.
“We’re still looking into how he was doing it, but he was definitely getting some kind of device close enough underneath the woman and children’s skirts to show underneath the skirt,” Taylorsville Police Chief Doug Bowman said.
According to investigators, the video from Wittenburg Elementary does not show any students because the camera was placed in a faculty bathroom.
The Taylorsville Police Department charged Childers with 53 counts of felony secret peeping and nine counts of felony indecent liberties with a minor. The indecent liberties charges stem from the secret peeping of minor victims, officials said.
The Alexander County Sheriff’s Office charged Childers with 55 counts of felony possession of secret peeping material and two counts of felony secret peeping. The two counts of felony secret peeping charges from the sheriff’s office stemmed from a video that was taken at a home in Alexander County.
On March 8, Childers was also charged with one count of felony secret peeping, one count of felony possession of secret peeping material and one count of felony indecent liberties with a minor.
Police said photos were taken of a girl inside a classroom with other students at Ellendale Elementary. There was no known physical or sexual contact with the student and Childers was not employed by Alexander County Schools at the time but was on campus for a school function, investigators said.
Deputies charged Childers with five more counts of felony secret peeping and five counts of felony possession of secret peeping material. Deputies said two of the felony secret peeping charges stem from Wittenburg Elementary School and the three other charges stem from Ellendale Elementary School where Childers also worked as a custodian.
The Alexander County Sheriff’s Office and Taylorsville Police Department’s said they seized two different computers from Childers with as many as a thousand videos on them. Investigators are still looking through both devices.
Cox Media Group