TAMPA (WFLA) – A former Florida teacher has pleaded guilty to over 300 counts of video voyeurism.
According to the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office, Mark Ackett, 52, secretly recorded 125 victims while they were changing clothes in a dressing room in Ackett’s fashion design classroom at Bloomingdale High School.
Ackett was a fashion design teacher and girls’ track coach at the school starting in January 2017. The state attorney’s office says he used hidden cell phones to secretly record hundreds of students in a changing area until a student discovered the phones in September 2018.
“This is an important win for our prosecutors and our community. He pled guilty because we built such a strong case against him, working with our partners in law enforcement. There’s no way out for him—no way for him to avoid being held accountable—so he surrendered,” Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said.
Ackett entered an open plea of guilty on Thursday afternoon, admitting responsibility for 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.
Ackett also pled guilty to 27 counts from an unrelated video voyeurism case not connected to his teaching position.
These charges came from additional instances of video voyeurism that 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.
Ackett entered a a guilty plea and 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 or consecutively.
“This plea spares these young women the pain of reliving their victimization during a trial, and it helps them heal. We’ve worked to make sure these victims have access to services and counseling,” Warren said. “As the father of two young daughters, I’m not sure what I can say to these young women to bring back what Mark Ackett took away from them—but I can now say, to each of them, we have delivered justice.”
Ackett started his employment with the school district in 1991. He worked in the school district’s central office before he became a teacher at Bloomingdale High School in January of 2017.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Mat 10.