A former Lenape High School teacher is sentenced to five years in state prison for taking videos and pictures up the skirts or shorts of female students last year in his classroom and the hallways.

Investigators say Eric Howell, 44, of Maple Shade concealed a camera in a coconut water box placed in the side mesh of his briefcase.

He would then unscrew the cap to make recordings.

Howell plead guilty in March to one count of Second Degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

He was suspended last year when someone noticed an apparent attempt to position his briefcase beneath a student's skirt.

Howell, hired as a chemistry teacher in 2016 was suspended by the school May 2 of 2017, the same day his alleged lewd behavior was brought to the attention of school officials who then contacted police.

School officials were fully cooperative with law enforcement.

The investigation revealed that Howell did not share or upload the videos and recordings.

"Parents and students have every right to expect that students will be safe from any form of sexual misconduct while they are in school, particularly by their teachers," Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said. "This defendant betrayed that sacred trust and rightfully is paying a significant price for his actions. I commend the students who immediately reported this behavior to the school administration once it had been observed, and the administration's prompt action in response. The investigation into this matter was a direct result of the concern that was shown, and the action that was taken, to make sure that these criminal acts were addressed."

Howell was prosecuted by Burlington County Assistant Prosecutor Stephen Eife, supervisor of the BCPO Sexual Assault/Child Abuse Unit.

The case was investigated by detectives from the Medford Township Police Department and the Prosecutor's Office.

The lead investigators were Medford Police Detective Nicole Fellona and BCPO Detective Matthew Delgado.

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