A Metro Nashville Public Schools teacher was arrested Monday on child porn charges after authorities say he secretly recorded more than 40 elementary students undressing over the course of more than four years.
Jarrett Jones, who currently teaches music at Antioch High School, was taken into custody without incident at his Antioch home on two counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of minors and three counts of sexual exploitation of minors, Metro police spokesman Don Aaron said.
A two-week investigation by police led to the arrest of Jones, 30. Police say he secretly recorded elementary-age school girls as they changed clothes at Napier Elementary School, where he taught from 2011-2015.
Jones began this school year as the assistant band director at Antioch High School, and an investigation began after Jones asked an Antioch High School colleague to help him with a computer problem, Aaron said
That colleague, police say, saw questionable items on the computer and alerted authorities.
Police say Jones instructed young girls participating in school plays or choir performances to change clothes in the music room’s closet, where he placed a hidden video recording device.
When detectives executed a search warrant at Jones’ home they found several pieces of digital equipment, including an external hard drive, Aaron said. An examination of that hard drive revealed more than 50 videos in a folder entitled “Napier.”
Metro Detective Chad Gish, the department's computer expert, must now go through every second of the videos that appear to contain at least 40 different girls.
Also on the hard drive were more than 1,000 sexually explicit images of minors that appear to have been downloaded from an external source unrelated to Napier Elementary.
After analyzing the videos, detectives have identified the majority of the children who were secretly recorded at the elementary school.
Aaron said forensic interviewers and clinical therapists arranged through the Nashville Children’s Alliance visited 12 schools Monday and talked with a number of the students, since the children identified in the videos are no longer in elementary school.
NCA is a nonprofit that works with the MNPD to provide services to children who have experienced sexual or severe physical abuse, including providing interviews to assist in determining if abuse has occurred.
After the interviews, children were asked for their parents' phone numbers and interviewers called parents to tell them what was going on, Aaron said. Children were also sent home with a note to their parents giving them Metro Detective Mike Adkins' contact information if they have any questions and informing them that there is no need to seek medical attention for their child.
“Given the number (of victims), it was determined that the interviews needed to be done in as close a time frame as possible so that they would not be influenced in any way by rumors and a lot of talk in the community," Aaron said.
Metro schools Director Shawn Joseph said Jones was placed on administrative leave Sept. 9 after the investigation began.
"We are devastated by the news of this investigation and are doing everything we can to help Metro Police and the District Attorney," Metro schools spokesperson Joe Bass said. "We are also working with the District Attorney’s office as well as the Nashville Children's Alliance to communicate with and counsel the affected families, and we expect it to be an ongoing process. Because of today’s events, the building principal and her executive leadership will be recommending dismissal to (the Metro schools superintendent)."
Joseph said most employees do the right thing in the district of 11,000.
"We commend our staff member for taking swift action when they saw something that they considered could be inappropriate, and they reported it as we trained them to do," he said.
Jones has not had contact with students since he was placed on leave, Joseph said. Jones was placed on leave as a precaution immediately after the school received the initial allegation.
On Monday, Jones was being held on $100,000 bond at the Metro jail and Aaron said additional charges are anticipated.
According to Antioch High School's online band page, Jones is a native to the Antioch community and graduated from Antioch High School in 2004.
It goes on to state Jones began working with the Antioch High School Band in 2005 and oversees all aspects of the percussion program at Antioch High School.
Police will conduct a full investigation at every school Jones worked. While police are not currently alleging that Jones had any physical contact with the students, Aaron said he expects more charges to be brought against the teacher.