A Dover man has been charged with 80 counts of violation of privacy in connection with photographing students at a Sussex Tech dance.
The investigation began on Sept. 29, 2018, when the Delaware State Police were made aware of an incident involving inappropriate photography by a hired adult photographer at the Sussex Technical High School Homecoming Dance, said Master Cpl. Melissa Jaffe of the Delaware State Police.
Elias R. Stephens, 34, was working for an entertainment company and operating a photo booth at the dance when, Jaffe said, he intentionally and secretly videotaped, photographed, or filmed young women in order to view their body or undergarments.
Police were also able to identify many other victims across the state. Stephens had relocated to Mississippi, Jaffe said, but on Jan. 15 he was indicted on 80 counts of felony violation of privacy, and he was taken into custody by the Long Beach Police Department in Mississippi on Jan. 17.
Stephens was extradited back to Delaware on Jan. 29 where he was charged with 80 counts of violation of privacy and arraigned at Justice of the Peace Court 3. He was committed to Sussex Correctional Institution in lieu of $160,000 secured bond with the following conditions: no contact with any of the victims; if the defendant posts bond, GPS monitoring and pre-trial supervision required; and the defendant may not possess any device capable of taking pictures or videos.
Due to the sensitivity of this case, and in consideration of the victims, only limited information will be released, Jaffe said.
Sussex Technical School District said they cooperated with police during the investigation. “The safety and well-being of our students is our top priority, and our school safety officers are present at all school functions for the protection of students and staff. When concerns were brought to the attention of administrators, we acted immediately and informed law enforcement authorities on hand. Counseling services are and have been available to any member of the Sussex Tech community,” the statement reads.
Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to contact Troop 4, Detective R. Mears at 302-752-3809. Information may also be provided by calling Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333 or at http://delaware.crimestoppersweb.com.