Prosecutors say a former York school teacher aide was "supposed to be a protector" of students, but instead took bathroom pictures of undressed children as young as 11.
Jonathan Lamont King, accused of hiding a camera in his class bathroom which was used to take the pictures, did not turn over the camera found by a student for three days, until a parent complained and police became involved, prosecutors say.
After King did turn over the camera, its memory card was gone, prosecutors say.
A judge Wednesday ruled that prosecutors can move forward to seek indictments against King.
King, 44, an employee at York school district for nine years, faces up to 26 years in prison if he is convicted on sexual exploitation of a minor and two voyeurism charges.
In a court hearing Wednesday, months after King's January arrest, Magistrate Judge Dan Malphrus ruled that prosecutors showed enough evidence to continue all three charges in the case against King.
York Police Department Detective Kevin Hoffman testified Wednesday that officers found on King's computer pictures of two children from the class bathroom.
King was the in-school suspension teacher at York Intermediate School, which serves children in fifth and sixth grades. The pictures were from October and November, Hoffman said.
A York school district technology employee found that King's computer hard drive had been "wiped clean," and that it had passwords and other software that was not issued by the school, testimony showed.
King did not speak in court Wednesday.
But King's lawyer, Robert Bruce, claimed in court that others had access to King's computer. Bruce also stated that there is no evidence that the camera found took the pictures that were discovered.
"There is no evidence he ever used the camera," Bruce stated in court.
Internet crimes prosecutor Camille Guthrie of the S.C. Attorney General's Office said that a female victim, 11, found the camera taped to the sink while using the toilet in the class bathroom on Nov. 16. Guthrie said the girl turned the camera over to King, her teacher.
King did not turn the camera over to the principal until police questioned him, Guthrie said. He was questioned after the parent of the student who found the camera complained to the school, Guthrie said.
Prosecutors and police said King claimed to his principal that he could not find the camera given to him by the student, but "five minutes later," he claimed to have found the camera in his desk.
"The teacher is supposed to be horrified," Guthrie said about a camera found in the bathroom, "yet he holds onto it for three days."
Guthrie said the photos recovered from King's work computer show a child in states of undress, ready to use the restroom.
"What was found on his computer from a bathroom are a child undressing," Guthrie said. "A child who is naked."
King, who resigned in late November during the police investigation, remains free on bond.
King is barred from all York school campuses under a court-ordered trespass notice, testimony showed.
No trial date has been set.