Former Valrico teacher, girls' track coach pleads guilty to secretly recording students changing in classroom
VALRICO, Fla. - Disgraced Bloomingdale high school teacher Mark Ackett, 52, says he is guilty of harming dozens of his students and Thursday, during a virtual court hearing, he took responsibility for it.
Hillsborough Circuit Judge Laura Ward asked, "How do you wish to plea?
"Guilty your honor," replied Ackett.
Ackett decided to do what’s called an "open plea" which means he pleaded guilty to voyeurism charges and is leaving his fate up to Judge Ward.
"Your exposure here right now could be a maximum of life do you understand that?" asked Judge Ward.
"Yes, your honor," replied Ackett.
Lead prosecutor Courtney Derry says Ackett secretly recorded his students changing in a storage room at school.
"Mr. Ackett will be entering a guilty plea to 323 counts of voyeurism," said Derry.
They say he used his cell phone and digital cameras to get video of the girls undressing during his fashion design class.
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Fox 13 spoke to one victim who says she had to sit there dripping in embarrassment as she watched the hidden videos. with a detective.
"It was really hard and upsetting. I mostly had my bra and underwear on but one where I had my bra off," explained the victim.
She told us the violation of privacy never goes away.
"Recently, when I went to the mall with my friends I was kind of scared to go in the changing room...kind of look for cameras and make sure there is nothing there," she shared.
Now that Ackett is headed to prison soon, his former student is left to deal with a harsh life lesson.
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"How could you do this because you seemed like such a great teacher we trusted you and now you broke that trust," said a tearful victim.
Ackett will be sentenced on May 10. Dozens of his victims are expected to speak before the judge hands down her sentence.
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