Former JWP coach strikes plea deal

Local News

A former Janesville basketball coach and choir teacher who filmed naked boys in a locker room using a disguised camera has reached a plea deal with Faribault County prosecutors.

According to a criminal complaint filed in June, Zachary Patrick Roberts, 28, was charged with four felony counts of interfering with the privacy of a minor and four felony counts of stalking a minor with sexual or aggressive intent.

During a pre-trial hearing held Monday, County Attorney Troy Timmerman says Roberts agreed to plea guilty at a Nov. 28 hearing to three counts of interfering with the privacy of a minor and one count of stalking a minor with sexual or aggressive intent.

Timmerman says he discussed the plea agreement with family members of the victims and gave their approval.

“The plea accomplishes almost everything, in terms of a sentence, that the defendant would have received had we proceeded to trial and he were convicted of all counts,” Timmerman says.

A court complaint says the case came to light on Dec. 14, 2015, when the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton (JWP) boys basketball team played a game against United South Central at Wells.

After the game, the JWP team went into the locker room to shower and change before returning home.

One of the players was looking for a pen to write down a play and got one from the gym bag belonging to Roberts, their coach. According to the complaint, the player realized the pen was actually a camera.

The players tried to view the files in the camera, but were unable. School officials were alerted and started an internal investigation.

Roberts agreed to turn the camera over to school authorities, who then gave it to the Janesville Police Department.

The complaint says Police Chief Dave Ulmen viewed the files and found “significant evidence” on two.

The first file was 15 minutes and included footage of the pen camera being placed and manipulated, says the court complaint, so it was focused on the entrance to the showers. The complaint says unclothed boys were seen going in and out of the shower.

The second file also included footage of unclothed boys and lasted 13 minutes. Near the end of it, says the complaint, video shows the players discovering the camera.

Ulmen was able to identify four of the JWP players in the footage, who were 14 and 15 years old.

During an interview on Dec. 24, Roberts told authorities be bought the camera to film boys in the locker room.

The court complaint says Roberts admitted he done this 40 to 50 times in the past and “he would then use the videos for self-sexual gratification.”

Janesville police also seized a “significant number” of other electronics from Roberts, including flash drives, digital cameras, external hard-drives, a laptop and a cellphones.

Ulmen says the devices were analyzed but they did not contain any incriminating material.

Roberts, a Janesville native, worked as a choir teacher at JWP High School for six years, served as a student council adviser and helped direct musicals and show choir for the district. He also was a youth coordinator for St. Ann Catholic Church in Janesville.On the interfering with the privacy of minor charges, Roberts faces a maximum penalty of 2 years in prison and a $5,000 fine for each count and 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine for the stalking a minor with sexual or aggressive intent.

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