Editor's Note: A previous headline on this story inaccurately referred to the man as an athletic trainer. We have since made the correction and apologize for the mistake.
A former teacher and volunteer at a middle school and high school pleaded guilty Monday to sexual exploitation of a minor after he secretly recorded nude athletes with a camera pen.
Thomas Hamel, 66, faces 15 to 30 years in prison upon sentencing May 29 in U.S. District Court in Marquette, Mich., the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Press reported.
Hamel retired as a teacher at St. Ignace High School in 2009 but volunteered with athletic teams for the next four years, when he videotaped athletes in middle school and high school, the newspaper reported.
Hamel recorded one 14-year-old football player who was nude from the waist down while he was taping him — with the camera pen in his pocket — according to the report. He also recorded wrestlers as they weighed in nude or were coming out of the shower. From the Grand Rapids Press:
“The defendant stood next to the weigh-in scale with his pen camera on his hip, videotaping the wrestlers as they approached and stepped on the scale. The focus of these videos was the nude genitals of the wrestlers who were weighing in at the time,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Lochner wrote in a plea agreement signed by Hamel. “At other times, the Defendant walked around the locker room with his pen camera on his hip video recording as boys were coming out of the showers and putting on their clothing ... .”
During a December 2012 raid of Hamel’s home, local, state and federal investigators found more than 2,400 images and videos of child pornography. Hamel, who lives alone, was caught during a U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigation into a foreign company marketing films of young boys in the United States.
John Agar, the author of the article in the Grand Rapids Press, wrote in the comments section on MLive.com that Hamel was not a state-licensed athletic trainer and was not certified through a national certifying agency, according to information from the president of the Michigan Athletic Trainers Society.