RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A former Long Island gym teacher will avoid jail time for secretly recording teenage in the locker room.
Thomas Sheppard, who taught at Westhampton Middle School, was sentenced to five years’ probation Wednesday in Suffolk County court, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported. He pleaded guilty in October to one felony count of unlawful surveillance and seven counts of endangering the welfare of a minor.
Sheppard, 28, who used his cellphone to record video of the 13-year-old girls as they changed clothes, faced his victims and their parents in court Wednesday. One mother said her daughter’s life is changed forever. Another said her daughter felt sick for weeks. And one of the victims called Sheppard a “disgrace to society.”
“These young girls were absolutely traumitized that this teacher who they trusted, who they believed in, who they thought was a mentor and a leader for them disappointed them and violated them in such a way,” prosecutor James Chalifoex told Hall.
Sheppard apologized to the victims, saying, “I hope you can put this situation behind you and have very bright futures.”
Chalifoex told Hall that Sheppard said he committed the crimes because “he was disappointed that he never achieved his lifelong dream of either joining our military or becoming a member of one our local police departments.”
He will surrender his teaching license and register as a sex offender, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.