Gymnastics students allegedly were filmed

Police continue to search for alleged victims of a Medford gymnastics teacher and sports photographer accused of taking videos of students in changing rooms without their knowledge.

Jeffrey Scott Bettman, 54, allegedly took videos, not photographs, as was originally reported in a police release, of students while they were changing for private photo sessions at as many as three Southern Oregon gymnastics businesses over the past nine years, authorities said.

Bettman was arrested Friday on 30 child pornography charges, 10 counts each of first- and second-degree encouraging child sex abuse and invasion of privacy.

He was arraigned Monday on the 20 child sex abuse charges only and was ordered by Jackson County Circuit Judge Benjamin Bloom to stay away from minors, potential victims and the gymnastics facilities in Grants Pass and Medford, records show.

Bettman was released from the Jackson County Jail Tuesday after a family member posted the required $25,000 on his $250,000 bail. Bettman has a preliminary court hearing slated for Dec. 5.

Calls to Bettman by the Mail Tribune were not returned Wednesday.

Bettman coached gymnastics at the Southern Oregon Gymnastics Academy and the shuttered Rogue Valley School of Gymnastics during the last decade, and was most recently at Ultimate Sports Gymnastics in Grants Pass, said Detective Josh Nieminen from the Southern Oregon High-Tech Crimes Task Force, which is investigating the case. Bettman also was a sports photographer, he said.

Bettman was one of several people targeted in an October sting operation, Nieminen said, after police discovered Bettman's Internet Protocol address had downloaded child pornography images.

"He was downloading child pornography off the Internet," Nieminen said. "That's what drew us to the case."

Once investigators realized Bettman's connection to the gymnastics clubs, he became a primary focus of the task force investigation, Nieminen said. A warrant to search Bettman's residence and seize his computer was signed by a judge Oct. 31, leading to Friday's search and arrest, Nieminen said.

The search identified the presence of what appeared to be child pornography created by Bettman in the form of videos of gymnasts changing, taken without their consent or knowledge, Nieminen said. The videos were found in several locations at Bettman's residence in the 1800 block of Camp Baker Road just outside of Medford, Nieminen said.

"We're still processing the videos," he said, adding there is currently no evidence that Bettman had distributed the videos on the Internet or elsewhere.

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.

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.

To help identify potential victims, investigators want to hear from families whose kids had private photo sessions with Bettman, Nieminen said.

"We're encouraging parents to call," he said.

Anyone whose child was trained or was photographed by Bettman, or who has any other information on the case, is urged to telephone Nieminen at 541-423-1315.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.


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