Saturday, November 04, 2000

School suspends janitor accused of taping kids

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MIDDLETOWN — A Butler County grand jury will consider the case of a school custodian police accuse of videotaping one child performing a sex act and others playing with fire.

        Thomas Layne, 56, is free on bond but has been suspended from his job at Vail Middle School.

        Mr. Layne initially was charged with a count of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, but Middletown Police Detective H. Fredrick Shuemake on Thursday said he would seek additional charges at an upcoming grand jury session.

        Mr. Layne's attorney, Jerry M. Bryant of Middletown, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

        Middletown City Schools Superintendent Wayne Driscoll said Mr. Layne would remain on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the case.

        “We had to protect students' rights as well as his rights,” Mr. Driscoll said.

        Mr. Layne has had an unblemished 28-year record of service to the district, Mr. Driscoll said.

        Authorities said they have no reason to suspect that any of the alleged misconduct occurred on school grounds. However, Detective Shuemake said, Mr. Layne apparently met one of the videotaped children, a 14-year-old boy, through his job at the school.

        A videotape confiscated from Mr. Layne's home shows that boy masturbating while watching a pornographic movie, Detective Shuemake said. The same youth also was depicted playing with fire.

        “(The boy) has done things such as pour gasoline on his dog and burn him to death,” Detective Shuemake said.

        The children in the videos are ages 3 to 14, and most lived near Mr. Layne's home in the 300 block of First Avenue.

        Police began investigating in June, after Mr. Layne's wife raised concerns about juveniles visiting the home.
        Sue Kiesewetter contributed to this report.


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