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Former St. Thomas Aquinas student reacts to charges against former choir director Joseph Heidesch

Says students could sometimes change in his office
Aquinas student reacts to charges against Heidesch
Posted at 5:55 PM, Jun 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-20 19:20:28-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Former St. Thomas Aquinas choir director, Joseph Heidesch, is facing 30 charges related to allegedly sexually exploiting a child and hiding a recording device to record people in states of undress.

Prosecutors allege the incidents happened between 2016 and 2021 and dozens of the victims were under the age of 18 when the crimes allegedly occurred.

"I've had to really really think back because it was almost five years ago that I was in high school," one former student said.

We're calling this former Aquinas student Rachel, who talked with KSHB 41 News about these allegations and her experience in choir. We are hiding her face and not using her real name to protect her identity.

"We just lived in that back corner of the school where everything was kind of tucked away and it was just music stuff," Rachel said. "In the same way, it was kind of a safe haven for us."

In April, an Aquinas family filed a civil suit against Heidesch and the school related to these charges, alleging he secretly filmed their daughter changing, along with other female students.

Rachel was at Aquinas during the time frame of the alleged incidents, but she is not listed as a witness.

She says students would use Heidesch's office to change clothes. She never did.

"Oh yeah. Yeah, that was very common," Rachel said.

Being in different groups and performances, Rachel says students would often change for fittings.

"So, it would not be uncommon for him to just pull us out of a regular class and say, 'Go try this thing on,'" Rachel said.

In response to many of the civil suit's allegations - including that Heidesch had female students change clothes in his office, he required them to do so, and he secretly recorded them changing - Heidesch invoked his 5th amendment rights.

While Rachel doesn't believe she was victimized, she hopes others will have a chance to raise their voices.

St. Thomas Aquinas told KSHB 41 News they can't comment due to the pending civil suit. Heidesch, who was with the school for 22 years, is no longer employed there.

Last week, attorneys representing Heidesch in the criminal case asked the judge to modify the conditions for his bond. A hearing on that request is set for Thursday, June 23.