HARTFORD – A former school principal of Highcrest Elementary School in Wethersfield will now spend years in jail after he was caught taking up-skirt photos of young girls inside a Walmart and Five Below Store two years ago.
John Bean, 49, a father of two, was sentenced to two years in prison and ten years of probation.
Since the details broke, Bean resigned from his job and his wife filed for divorce. Bean was first arrested on September 24, 2016 when he attracted the attention of a Walmart security guard in Hartford. There were suspicions of him stealing, but it turned out to be him taking pictures up young girls’ skirts and shorts.
“He noted an odd behavior by the defendant which originally was believed to be shoplifting, but eventually was revealed to be the defendant using an iPhone that was owned by the school district and surreptitiously photographing young girls' "private areas" said Prosecuting Attorney Debra Collins.
When security approached Bean, he refused to provide the pass code to his iPhone. It was then when he was arrested and agree to hand over his iPhone and laptop, both of which were owned by the school district.
Wethersfield school officials immediately placed Bean on administrative leave.
When police searched the phone and computer, they discovered the disturbing images of young girls' underwear.
The prosecutor requested the risk of injury charge be dropped since the girls were not aware they were being filmed at the time. The ages of these girls ranged from six to eight and nine to 12 years old.
In court, Defense Attorney William Paetzold argued this was all caused by stress. He said Bean felt the pressure of protecting his school since the Newtown tragedy happened and it led to heavy drinking and mental issues.
Paetzold also added he has received an excess of 30 letters from Bean’s friends from college who said he was a wonderful person.
“Based on the psychological evaluation that was conducted by a doctor, he’s saying it was caused by a mental illness and mental illness does run in the family,” said Defense Attorney William Paetzold.
Bean briefly apologized in court for his actions and the judge went on to say he must feel the public disgrace his actions has put him in, especially as a longtime educator.
Collins argued Bean’s sex offender registry exemption should not be granted as he has proved himself as a threat to the community.
“The state is asking for the ten years of sex offender registration despite the exception because the state does feel that in your honor, could find the defendant to a public safety concern especially in light of the defendant’s position in the community at the time these crimes were committed,” added Collins.
The judge faced Bean and said it is a shame he had so much going for him in the education world only to have it be ruined by a controllable, disturbing action.
She has ordered him to stay away from children, continue to take his medication and to attend rehabilitation.