This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. — When we began investigating a hidden porn camera, we never dreamed it would lead us to a police officer. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how we broke this story.

A man in Philadelphia noticed online videos of men and boys using a public restroom, and he could tell the subjects did not know they were being recorded. He noticed several people were wearing shirts with business logos from St. Charles County, Missouri, so he googled “Investigative Reporter St. Louis” and chose me to investigate.

The Philadelphia man sent us “non-pornographic” screengrabs so that we had a view of what the bathroom looked like and for the next several days, photographer Dave Sharp and I checked every public restroom we could find, working our way East from Wentzville. We were looking for the same tile pattern and failed to find it. We also called some of the businesses from the logos our tipster found. Every business that I called hung up on me. I sensed that the owners were concerned that my reporting of this story would somehow hurt their business, even though I’d explained they were potential victims and that would not name them in my reporting.

Our Philadelphia tipster continued monitoring the site and noticed a man with an arm tattoo that said “chimney sweep,” along with a chimney logo. Our next stop was to call chimney sweep companies which again led to hang-up after hang-up.

Out of frustration, I told my colleague that we would personally visit one of the last chimney sweep companies on our list, which was a business in St. Charles County. I’ll never forget walking in and telling the owner, “Please hear me out in the interest of justice and helping others.” He laughed, and he did.

I asked: “Do you have an employee with an arm chimney sweep tattoo?”
“Yes,” he said.

I remember yelling in gratitude, and the owner called his employee to head back to base and talk to us in person.

What we now thought would be easy, still took days to pin down. The “chimney sweep” guy gave us bathroom after bathroom that he’d recently visited. We checked each one. None matched. He apologized that he *never uses a customer’s restroom, so he’s constantly using public restrooms, and there are too many to count.

It took another couple of days before we finally found a perfect match, and we knew we had our hidden camera location – a Mobile On the Run on Clarkson just south of Interstate 40. We knew the camera had to be hidden in a ceiling tile, so we pulled it down. There was no camera. So my colleague Dave Sharp and I parked nearby and watched. We watched for hours. Hours turned into days. We went into the restroom regularly to check the ceiling tiles — never a camera.

After several days, we knew we had to take another approach. Videos were continuing to be posted, according to our Philadelphia source. We noticed police officers were regularly using this bathroom, so I knew the next step – go to Chesterfield Police. The spokesperson at the time was Captain Steve Lewis, who is now the police chief of Ellisville, Missouri.

I knew Capt. Lewis to be a good man who I could approach at a moment’s notice, so I told my colleague we would just drop in on him. As we pulled up to police headquarters, he was out front talking to citizens.

I literally jumped out of our still-moving car and yelled at him, “I can help you solve a crime in which your officers are victims. And they don’t know it.”

I had his attention, and he immediately brought me into a meeting with the highest-ranking command staff. I knew the police would be able to use search warrants to trace the website to the source and that would get our answer. First, the Commanders had to discuss strategy. One officer said something like, “We can’t tell our officers, because this will spread like wildfire. Everyone will tell their spouses, and we’ll end up seeing it on Facebook before we solve it.”

Another officer answered (I’m paraphrasing from memory), “‘You’re right, but it’s a chance we have to take. We a have a moral responsibility to tell our officers they could be victims of a crime.”

Commanders chose option two, which we respected. We waited for the results. The next day, we were met with another devastating setback. The porn website was down. It was completely gone and now untraceable. This was a wall that seemed unsurmountable. I told our Philadelphia tipster, who mentioned that other videos on the same website had become more graphic and appeared to be recorded at a different location, possibly a home.

He had one more logo from a shirt, which he snapped a screengrab and sent to me. It was a blurry three letters that seemed familiar, but I couldn’t place them. Ten other people I work with thought the same, but they also could not identify it. Then our assignment manager Glen Seibold glanced at it and knew immediately. It was from a St. Charles County car dealer. In this case, I did not feel comfortable contacting the business as a reporter because our tipster explained that the video was of a willing participant who had arrived at this mysterious home for anonymous sex.

This was a job for the police. I returned to Chesterfield Police Commanders who visited the dealership. They found the person from the video, and that person told police about the house he had visited (where he thought he was having sex with a woman behind a curtain). When police arrived at the house in Wentzville, they could not get a hit on the license plate from the car parked in the driveway. It came up as “anonymous” or “protected.”

So they knocked on the door. It was one of their own colleagues – a police officer who answered. It was David Cerna. This all went down without my presence as it was part of an active police investigation.

The next day the commanders brought me back into police HQ and sat me down with my colleague Dave Sharp. They said, “You’re not going to believe who we traced your material to.”

I’m thinking professional athlete or politician. They said no – it was one of their own officers. Cerna was immediately fired and lost his police license.

The police investigation continued and determined that he had also secretly video recorded his own colleagues in the police locker room. They found Cerna also inappropriately frisked a teen boy and recorded his genitals. Cerna was convicted, went to prison for a year, and is now a sex offender for life. We continue reporting on him to this day as he continues to fight cases in court ranging from shoplifting and drug use to failing to report as a sex offender.

This is our reporter’s story filed on June 11, 2014:

You or one of your kids may have appeared on video on a pornographic website.  A FOX 2 investigation led to the discovery of a police officer behind it.   Videos of men going to the bathroom began spreading across the United States until Fox Files investigator Chris Hayes traced them to a gas station bathroom in Chesterfield.

With the help of police, we found an unexpected suspect.

Update:  Former cop accused of posting bathroom videos online to face grand jury

It started with a hidden camera we discovered was at the Mobile On The Run on Clarkson, just south of the Chesterfield Mall.  Video from a hidden camera showed people going to the bathroom and the videos were posted on a pornographic website.

Our investigation started on the East Coast, where a man said he clicked on a banner that took him to the offensive porn website.  He noticed many victims wearing company shirts.  That’s how we found victim Rob Cheney who told us, “When I saw myself pooping, I was just like you’ve gotta be kidding me.”

We asked Cheney for a list of places where he used the bathroom.  He explained, “I had to think because you don’t document everywhere you go to the bathroom, so it took me a while to pinpoint where it was.”

Fox 2 checked his list of restrooms, comparing the online video to each bathroom.  Then we found a perfect match, from the floor tiles to the drain by the toilet.  Cheney just moved to the area and laughed, “Three weeks and I’m already on a poop cam pretty much. So three weeks and everybody’s seen me poop?  That’s terrible.  Hahaha.”

But we found no camera when we first discovered the bathroom.   We took our investigative research to Chesterfield Police.  Chief Ray Johnson held a news conference and said, “The Chesterfield Police Department has arrested one of our own officers, working from a tip from an investigative reporter Chris Hayes from Fox 2 News.”

The website unexpectedly shut down during the investigation, but Fox 2 had already gathered intelligence needed to break the case.  A key break involved a web posting of a St. Charles County man visiting the house of the possible suspect.  The St. Charles County man went to the house for anonymous sex.

According to police, the suspect later admitted luring about 50 men to his Wentzville home, offering oral sex through what he called a gloryhole.  He reportedly lured the men through a Craigslist ad, then secretly videotaped them entering his home and using his gloryhole.

Neighbor Kim Parker remembered talking to other neighbors during the police raid of Cerna’s home.  She said, “We were discussing how we had noticed a lot of suspicious cars at all different times of the morning and evening, always with Illinois license plates, circling the area, pulling in the driveway and then shortly after pulling back out.”

The raid followed our lead involving the Craigslist add.  And it netted the arrest of Chesterfield’s own officer, 33-year-old David Cerna.

Cerna’s reported website included an interesting discussion when someone posted “is this legal?”  The response reads, “I’m not an attorney so I don’t know.”

Police Chief Ray Johnson described getting the phone call that his officer was the suspect.  He said, “It was rather shocking of course and took a minute to sink in, but we realized the severity of it and just set out to deal with it immediately as we would with any other suspect.”

Chesterfield Police used our information to crack this case in less than one week.  To the Department’s credit, officers did not hesitate to say they found one of their own officers.  He’s a single man who has served on the force for six years.   Cerna faces charges in St. Louis County for the bathroom hidden camera and charges in St. Charles County for videotaping men he reportedly lured to the gloryhole.  He is no longer a Chesterfield Police Officer.

Read the Probable Cause Statement