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Officers offer advice to parents after man accused of taking pictures of minors in Morgantown restrooms

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 6:39 PM EDT
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va (WDTV) - Officers are now giving advice to parents after a man was caught taking photos of minors in a restroom area at Morgantown High School.

21-year-old John Alexander Knoll has been charged with two counts of use of minors in filming sexually explicit conduct. This after it was reported that Knoll was in a restroom taking photos a juvenile during a youth basketball tournament at Morgantown High School just roughly a week ago.

“As a person and as a father myself it terrifies me to think that this could happen to my children or to anybody that I care about,” Sgt. Brandon Viola with Morgantown police and the head of the detective division said.

He states this incident should serve as a reminder to parents to talk with their children.

“If you have to send your young child off on their own, the most important thing is to have a plan,” Sgt. Viola said. “Know how long they are going to be gone, what they are going to be doing; for example if they’re going into the restroom it’s best if the parent can be just outside. You know how long your child should take in the restroom and if it seems like they’re taking and excessively long time it might need to be addressed.”

If an incident does occur, Sgt. Viola says make sure your child knows that it’s okay to speak up and as a parent it’s okay to question them to make sure everything is okay.

“It might have just struck them as just strange or something but not necessarily bad. So it’s not a bad idea that if you think maybe your kid took a little extra long to just ask them, ‘hey what happened? Why were you in there so long, is everything okay?’ And worst case you’re just going to get an, ‘Oh yeah everything’s fine, don’t be silly mom, don’t be silly dad.’”

Even if nothing happened to your child, Sgt. Viola says it’s always good to remind children that it’s okay to be vocal about situations they’re unsure of.

“The best thing to do is just remind your children that you’re always going to love them and you’re always going to keep them safe and that reporting something bad is never going to be a bad thing for them to do,” Sgt. Viola said.

5 News reached out to Morgantown High School about the incident, but did not get a response. However, Sgt. Viola says anyone hosting events like this, adding extra security and knowing who should be attending the events is the best way to keep everyone safe.

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