Former Westport schools employee gets probation in stalking case
NORWALK — A former Westport schools employee was sentenced to probation after he was accused in May of stalking a Staples High School student.
Paul Telep, a 52-year-old Stratford resident, pleaded guilty in October after his third-degree stalking charges were reduced to a simple disorderly conduct charge.
As a part of his plea, he was given 90 days in jail — execution suspended — and one year of probation.
The charges stemmed from an incident in which a school resource officer spotted him allegedly recording a female student with his work cellphone in the cafeteria.
Telep, who worked as a plumber for the Westport school system, claimed he was only “looking at donuts” during the alleged incident, but a search of his cellphone revealed videos not of food but a Staples High student, his arrest affidavit said.
According to the report, officer Ed Wooldridge went to the kitchen on April 2 to purchase a beverage when he observed Telep standing near the baked goods, with a jacket hanging over his left arm and holding a phone in his hand. The phone was pointed in the direction of two female students, Wooldridge wrote.
As Wooldridge got closer to the cashier station, Telep “appeared startled and immediately brought his phone down and began walking toward the exit,” the report says.
Wooldridge informed head custodian Horace Lewis of his observations, and then confronted Telep in Lewis’ office, asking if he had been recording the girls. Telep allegedly responded, “I may have, I was checking my phone.”
Wooldridge and maintenance workers union Vice President Calvin Terpsta later met with Telep in Principal James D’Amico’s office.
D’Amico asked Telep again if he was recording students, to which Telep responded, “I wouldn’t say I was recording students, but I use it for work,” the report says. When questioned about what he was doing in the kitchen that day, Telep reportedly said, “Looking at donuts.”
D’Amico then confiscated Telep’s work phone, as it was property of the Board of Education, and additional police were notified.
An initial search of the phone by Westport detectives found no photographs or videos of the student; however, a forensic search revealed Telep had deleted seven videos, police said. The videos, filmed over the course of about a month, all featured the same female student in the cafeteria.
In one recording, “Telep gets up from the table and walks towards the female student while recording her. As Telep gets closer, the camera stays on the female student the entire time,” the affidavit says.
Another captures the incident observed by the school resource officer, in which the video is focused on the same student. In that recording, “there is also another female student who walks up to Telep and he is heard saying ‘oh donuts.’ The video then shows this affiant (Wooldridge) walking toward Telep and then Telep starts walking out of the kitchen area and stops recording.”
The student and her mother were notified of the findings, and the student was apparently unaware she had been recorded. The girl’s mother later contacted Wooldridge, saying she was concerned for her daughter’s safety and would possibly be filing a restraining order against Telep, the affidavit says.
Telep was placed on paid leave without prejudice on April 2 and by June was no longer employed by the Westport schools; it is unclear when he was released from his position with the district.
After several failed attempts to schedule an interview with Telep at police headquarters, an arrest warrant application was submitted and signed on May 3, and Telep turned himself in on May 7.