NewsHillsborough County

Actions

Former Hillsborough teacher pleads guilty to recording students in changing room

MARK-ACKETT.jpg
Posted at 2:42 PM, Apr 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-01 17:21:07-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla.  — The Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office says Mark Ackett pleaded guilty to 324 counts of video voyeurism on April 1.

"The counts represent crimes committed against 125 individual victims who were secretly recorded while changing clothes in a dressing room in Ackett’s fashion design classroom at Bloomingdale High School."

Ackett pleaded guilty to 323 counts of video voyeurism by a school employee, a second-degree felony, and one count of video voyeurism of an adult, a third-degree felony.

The counts represent all 125 of Ackett’s victims from Bloomingdale High School in Valrico—124 students and one adult employee of the school.

Ackett also pleaded guilty to 27 counts from an unrelated video voyeurism case not connected to his teaching position.

Officials say these charges were discovered by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office on devices seized from Ackett. While not connected to the school, 13 of these instances involved victims under the age of 16. Those 13 counts are second-degree felonies; the other 14 are third-degree felonies.

Under the law, Ackett faces a maximum of 15 years in prison for each second-degree felony, and up to five years for each third-degree felony. The actual sentencing will be determined by the judge, who can also decide whether some or all of the sentences will run concurrently (at the same time) or consecutively (back-to-back).

Judge Laura Ward will hold a sentencing hearing on May 10; victims are able to submit a written Victim Impact Statement to the judge in advance or speak in person about how these crimes have affected their lives.

Authorities began investigating Mark Ackett, 52, in 2018 after being notified by Bloomingdale Senior High School administration that a student located two cellphones concealed inside the fashion design class changing room.

The sheriff's department said one of the phones was actively recording when it was found. After his arrest, the sheriff's department said Ackett admitted to secretly recording his students' undressing when he started working at the school more than a year before.

Ackett was a family consumer science teacher within the fashion design program at the Valrico school. He was also the girl's track team coach.

A month after his initial arrest in September 2018 for one count of video voyeurism, Ackett was charged with an additional 353 charges related to the secret recordings. He received an additional 311 charges in February 2019.

Authorities discovered hundreds of videos during their investigation that showed girls ranging from 14 to 18 years old in various stages of undress.

The sheriff's department said Ackett could be seen on several videos placing, hiding and removing the recording devices.