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Former Johnson County choir teacher sentenced Wednesday in sexual exploitation case

A former Johnson County choir teacher accused of secretly filming students changing at an Overland Park high school was sentenced to more than five years in prison.

Joseph Heidesch, 47, pleaded guilty to one count of sexual exploitation and 25 counts of breaching privacy on Dec. 12, a plea agreement said. On Wednesday, he was sentenced in Johnson County District Court to five years and eight months in jail, according to court documents.

Heidesch was employed at the school for 22 years.

He allegedly recorded hundreds of videos. They showed 25 victims either getting undressed, or in some cases, nude between 2016 and 2021, court documents said.

Heidesch kept the files on a hard drive and organized them according to victim’s names, court documents said.

Another lawsuit involving Heidesch, filed in January, said the plaintiff is unaware whether the 47-year-old has made the images available online, as he’s believed to have done with others. The student sued on multiple counts, including violation of privacy and negligence against the school, St. Thomas Aquinas High School, court documents said.

Other victims came forward to accuse Heidesch in civil lawsuits, alleging he made of girls change their clothes in his office under the guise of trying on new sizes, even when they objected. Some claimed school personnel were aware Heidesch was asking students to change in front of him and communicating with them through his cellphone, court documents said.

Heidesch will need to register as a sex offender after he is released from prison.

Multiple lawsuits filed against Heidesch and St. Thomas Aquinas High School are still pending in Johnson County District Court.