A Southern Oregon gymnastics teacher and sports photographer faces 30 child pornography charges for allegedly taking pictures of students while they were changing during private photo sessions at as many as three local gymnastics businesses over the past nine years, authorities said.
Jeffrey Scott Bettman was arraigned Monday in Jackson County Circuit Court on 30 crimes stemming from photographs seized from his computer during a Friday search of his home on the 1800 block of Camp Baker Road just outside of Medford, authorities said.
The search identified the presence of what appeared to be child pornography photos of gymnasts changing and taken without their consent or knowledge, said Detective Josh Nieminen from the Southern Oregon High-Tech Crimes Task Force, which is investigating the case.
Bettman coached gymnastics at the Southern Oregon Gymnastics Academy and the shuttered Rogue Valley School of Gymnastics last decade, and was most recently at Ultimate Sports Gymnastics in Grants Pass, Nieminen said. Bettman also was a sports photographer, he said.
As many as 30 victims could be involved in the investigation to date, with gymnasts "the primary victims" so far in the investigation, Nieminen said. The alleged crimes could date as far back as 2003, "but it could be earlier," he said.
None of the alleged victims in the seized photographs have yet to be identified, Nieminen said. To help identify potential victims, investigators want to hear from families whose kids had private photo sessions with Bettman, he said.
Nieminen said investigators did not yet know how Bettman allegedly snapped the photographs.
Bettman was arraigned Monday on 10 counts each of first-degree encouraging child sexual abuse, second-degree encouraging child sexual abuse and invasion of personal privacy.
Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Bloom set Bettman's bail at $250,000 and returned him to the Jackson County Jail, where he was lodged after his Friday arrest, records show. Bloom ordered Bettman back in court Nov. 14 for a hearing and ordered him to stay away from minors, potential victims and the gymnastics facilities in Grants Pass and Medford, records show.
The child sexual abuse charges do not involve physical contact, according to state statutes. They involve the possession, buying, selling or trading of images of sexually explicit conduct involving a child, statutes state.
SOGA owner Jill Hill said Bettman was one of her original employees hired in February 2005 when she and co-owners opened SOGA in Medford after the closing of the Rogue Valley School of Gymnastics, where he previously worked. Bettman was fired from SOGA in April 2008, said Hill, who declined to discuss the case any further Monday.
Bettman has coached gymnastics at Unlimited Sports in Grants Pass for the last four years, owner Lisa Austin told the Grants Pass Daily Courier. That program has about 350 youth members, she said.
The investigation began in early October through undercover online investigation of possession and distribution of child pornography allegedly downloaded from Bettman's Internet Protocol address, Nieminen said. A warrant to search Bettman's residence and seize his computer was signed by a judge Wednesday, leading to Friday's search and arrest, Nieminen said.
The investigation will continue, police said. Anyone whose child had a professional photo session with Bettman or who has any other information on the case was urged to telephone Nieminen at 541-423-1315.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.