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Hillsborough County School Board Sued in Sex Tape Quagmire

July 29, 2020

By: Deborah Childress

TAMPA, Fla. – The gripping, national story of a former local teacher’s secret videotaping of Bloomingdale High School students has progressed with a new lawsuit filed by one of the scandal’s victims.  On June 26, 2020, attorneys for a female Valrico resident filed suit against the Hillsborough County School Board, as well as Mark William Ackett, a former fashion design teacher accused of videotaping minor students and at least one adult in various stages of undressing. 

Bared breasts and buttocks were reported through forensic evidence obtained by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, according to other news reports, and according to an interview conducted today with the State Attorney’s Office in Hillsborough County. Ackett has been charged with 455 counts, including video voyeurism, possession of child pornography, and production of harmful material of a minor. 

Mark William Ackett, Courtesy of Hillsborough County Jail

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office stated that Ackett posted a cash bond and was released from jail on April 26, 2019.  They did not know the amount of Ackett’s last bond upon release, but it spiraled from originally $7,500 to $2 million, according to various reports.

The Hillsborough County School board is accused of being negligent in properly supervising the work of Ackett, a co-defendant in the case, and of not properly training and supervising other employees to prevent other employees like Ackett from engaging in unlawful conduct when it knew, or should have known that unlawful conduct existed.  The School Board was also accused of failing to warn students of such conduct.

As for the victim, the lawsuit states among other things, that she suffered permanent bodily injury, pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, expense of hospitalization, medical and nursing care, and a reduction in her wage-earning capacity.  It is indicated that a pre-existing condition was exacerbated by the victim’s experience.

The lawsuit demands a trial by jury.  The attorney in the case is Charles Calandra, Law Offices of Calandra and Inman, P.A., Tampa.  Mr. Calandra was reached but refused to comment.

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