ARLINGTON — A student found the thumb drive sitting in the grass outside Arlington Christian School in February 2018.
He put it in his backpack and went on his way. He wouldn’t discover what was on it until eight months later, when he and a friend decided to plug it into a computer.
“What they found was described by all who would see it as inappropriate and disturbing,” wrote Snohomish County prosecutors.
That included hundreds of images and videos of several different female students and faculty at Arlington Christian School, often focused on their breasts, buttocks and crotches. The manner in which many of the photos and videos were taken indicated they were taken without the subject’s permission.
Among the files were selfies taken by the alleged owner, Stephen Clark Brown, 62, who at the time was a local pastor, teacher and coach at Arlington Christian School. He has since been fired.
On July 28, Brown was charged in Snohomish County Superior Court with first-degree voyeurism.
During the investigation, detectives with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office seized phones, CDs and laptops from Brown’s house.
“I located evidence that Stephen Brown had a longstanding practice, going back years of secretly recording videos of women and young girls he interacted with,” a detective wrote.
The earliest folder detectives found was dated 2010, according to charging papers.
At least a few videos appeared to violate state voyeurism laws, a detective wrote. In one series of clips, taken of a 17-year-old girl, the person filming appears to be trying to get a view up the student’s skirt, according to court papers. With each progressive video, the suspect moves closer to the victim, from about 12 feet to 2 feet. The angle of the camera gets lower and lower.
In the last video, the phone is apparently being held under a desk, documents say.
“There is no reaction from (the victim), indicating she has no knowledge the camera is pointed in a direction up her skirt,” a detective wrote.
Another series of videos apparently was taken underneath a picnic table, aimed at two girls who were wearing shorts. One video was taken in a gym, and captures a glimpse of a girl’s underwear as she gets up off the floor.
In addition to images of the defendant, detectives reportedly found other indications that Brown was responsible for what was found on the thumb drive. A Windows profile associated with one of the devices had the name “Steve Brown,” and some folders were titled “Pastor Steve.” A voice that sounded like Brown’s could be heard in some of the videos, prosecutors wrote.
It isn’t the first time Brown has been summoned to court in connection with allegations of inappropriate behavior involving minors.
In 2011, Brown was the subject of a lawsuit while he was a teacher at Highland Christian School, which later merged with Arlington Christian School.
The lawsuit claimed the school failed to protect a 14-year-old girl from the school’s former principal, Mark Brown, who had pleaded guilty to kidnapping her.
Prosecutors believed Mark Brown — who is not related to Stephen Brown — raped the girl in 2008 after he encouraged her to run away from home and helped her hide out at the school. Prosecutors eventually dropped a third-degree child rape charge.
The girl’s parents also named Stephen Brown as a defendant, under a different spelling of his first name, and accused him of shirking his responsibility as a mandatory reporter by not telling authorities about the suspected child abuse. The plaintiffs claimed Stephen Brown helped transport the girl between hiding places on Mark Brown’s behalf.
The lawsuit was settled in 2015 for an undisclosed amount.
Stephen Brown is scheduled to be arraigned on the voyeurism charges on Aug. 19.