A Glendale high school teacher admitted secretly taking inappropriate photos of female students for several years, according to a letter obtained in a public records request from the Glendale Unified School District.
Christian Axelgard, a teacher at Clark Magnet High School, admitted to taking voyeuristic photos and videos of his physical education students beginning in August 2016, Cynthia Foley, the district’s assistant superintendent in charge of human resources, said in the four-page letter.
Axelgard, 60, told Foley he “had a history of taking pictures/videos of female students,” she said in the letter. He would also secretly take photos of girls while they waited in line at the school cafeteria or stood in the hallway with friends.
Axelgard was arrested by police in January and charged with two misdemeanor counts of unlawfully annoying or molesting a child under 18.
He has denied the charges.
If convicted, he would be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
His teaching credential would also be revoked by the state.
Axelgard’s actions were an apparent open secret among students.
“During student interviews, students shared [that his] behavior was known among students, and students commented this made them feel extremely uncomfortable,” Foley said in her letter.
Axelgard created an “intimidating, hostile or offensive educational environment” because of his conduct, according to the letter.
Glendale Unified officials first became aware of his conduct last November when several girls reported him to administrators after they noticed Axelgard taking photographs of them while they were doing push-ups in class.
He was immediately placed on paid administrative leave while the district conducted an investigation into the claims.
In addition to his admission, the letter said officials searched Axelgard’s personal cellphone and found multiple photographs of female students including pictures focused on girls’ breasts and buttocks.
The district also found security camera footage from the school that captured him trying to secretly record students by holding his phone closely to his chest, according to the letter.
Axelgard would reportedly use the photos and videos for his own sexual gratification, according to the Glendale Police Department.
He is not expected to return to teaching, and Foley said in her letter that the district had enough evidence to fire him.
Before district officials could begin the process of firing him, and rather than resigning from his position, Axelgard opted to retire early — a move Glendale Unified's school board approved on March 12.
His retirement from the district will start on May 31. He is scheduled to appear in court on June 20 for a pretrial hearing.