VALRICO, Fla. (WFLA) — A teacher who was arrested and admitted to secretly recording hundreds of videos of students changing clothes will spend 15 years in state prison, a judge announced Monday.
Mark Ackett was in court Monday for his sentencing. The 52-year-old former Bloomingdale High School teacher used to teach fashion design and coach girls track. A 17-year-old student noticed a camera hidden in a dressing room at the school in 2018. Hillsborough County deputies say they eventually discovered Ackett had hundreds of recordings of girls and at least one teacher undressing at the school.
A judge officially announced his punishment at 7 p.m. Monday, sentencing him to 15 years in Florida prison with credit for time served. Ackett will be on probation and have sex offender status for the rest of his life.
Ackett admitted to taking more than 300 videos of students using a cell phone camera hidden in a dressing room inside his classroom.
Police said there were 125 victims at the school. They found 27 more videos of people that Ackett had secretly recorded. Some of those victims were also underage.
“They occurred at his home in Hillsborough County. In those images there were three victims depicted that were under the age of 16 at the time,” said prosecutor Courtney Derry.
Ackett pleaded guilty to more than 300 criminal charges connected to the case in April.
He took the witness stand on Monday to deliver a tearful apology.
“I am truly sorry for what I did. What I did was a violation of your privacy and a violation of your trust,” he said. “I know that what I did was inexcusable and perhaps unforgivable.”
A licensed mental health counselor testified that Ackett has a voyeuristic disorder that began early in his life at the age of 8 when his mother caught him spying on a young girl who was 12 or 13 at the time. Ackett claims his addiction didn’t really take hold until the last few years.
Ackett’s defense team is asking that he not spend any time in prison for his actions.
A victim who testified against him says Ackett deserves to spend time in prison for violating their trust. The victim said the dressing room at the school became a “house of horrors” and that she cannot forgive him for his actions.
State Attorney Andrew Warren said it’s best the case never went to trial.
“One of our focuses is in avoiding trial, in putting together such a strong case that it would force him to plead guilty, was because a plea spares the young women in reliving their victimization,” said Warren.