Former Madison High School Teacher Sentenced to 12 Years for Secretly Filming Students | USAO-WDWI
MADISON, SWITZERLAND. – Timothy M. O’Shea, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, and Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul announced that David M. Kruchten, 39, was sentenced today by the United States District Judge James Peterson to 12 years in federal prison for attempting to produce obscene depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit behavior and transporting minors into interstate commerce with the intent to engage in illicit sexual behavior. This prison sentence must be followed by 20 years of supervised release. Kruchten pleaded guilty to the charges on August 16, 2021.
On December 6, 2019, a group of students traveled to Minneapolis on a school trip organized by Kruchten. The trip was associated with a school organization and the Respondent was one of their advisers and accompanied them on the trip. That evening, one of the students pressed an air freshener on the bathroom counter in her hotel room. When she pressed it, the device opened and turned out to be a surveillance camera.
After the discovery of the first device, the students began to browse their rooms and found additional air fresheners, a smoke detector, two alarm clocks and several thermostats which were all monitoring devices. Trusting Kruchten, the students handed him all the devices that night. He was later seen on video of the hotel appearing to throw the devices in trash cans around the hotel. Kruchten lied to authorities and said he gave the devices to a hotel security guard.
During the investigation, several students provided photos and videos they took in their hotel rooms on school trips to the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells and the Grand Geneva Resort on Lake Geneva. In the photos provided, several air freshener type devices are visible on the bathroom counters. In the same photos, digital clocks, thermostats and tissue boxes that were actually recording devices are also visible. The devices could be seen on the counter, on the toilet and on the wall.
Kruchten used his personal credit card to book a suite at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells for travel in 2018 and 2019. He also determined which students stayed in that upgraded room. Photos and videos provided to law enforcement by minors who stayed in upgraded rooms showed multiple recording devices in each bathroom in the suite. He also rented a room at another Wisconsin resort for a babysitter. The photos she took of the bathroom also showed several recording devices in the bathroom.
During sentencing, many victims and their relatives explained to the court how Kruchten’s crimes affected them and their families. Victims reported betrayal, sadness and anger. Some said they were concerned about showering in hotels and checking air fresheners in public toilets to make sure they weren’t recording devices. The parents also reported betrayal and guilt for allowing their children to go on a trip with the accused.
Justice Peterson thanked the victims and families for their courage and for letting him know through their statements how the crime has impacted the victims, their families and the community. Justice Peterson also told the victims that the accused took advantage of their good qualities and that they were not at fault.
In convicting the accused, Judge Peterson found Kruchten engaged in “sustained and masterful manipulation” and exploited the fact that he was a beloved teacher. Justice Peterson also found that the accused was lying in court or deluding himself by denying that his crime was sexually motivated.
The charges against Kruchten were the result of an investigation by the Criminal Investigations Division of the Wisconsin Department of Justice, the Minneapolis Police Department and the Cottage Grove Police Department, with assistance from the prosecutor’s office General of Wisconsin. Deputy US prosecutors Elizabeth Altman and Laura Przybylinski Finn continued this case.