Thomas Sheppard, 27, of Speonk, appeared Oct. 23 at the Suffolk County Court in Riverhead to plead guilty to an eight-count indictment. The charges include a felony count of second-degree unlawful surveillance and seven misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
State Police arrested Sheppard last March after Westhampton Beach Police investigators received complaints of “suspicious activity” from the school district. Authorities later learned that several students had reported that Sheppard’s cell phone was placed in the girl’s locker room at Westhampton Beach Middle School.
During a press conference following his arrest, police said Sheppard had been using the phone to record the young girls changing.
“It was clear to us from the beginning the recording of these girls was not inadvertent as the defendant first claimed,” Spota said. “His appalling betrayal of these teenagers will also result in the surrender of his teaching license.”
Michael Radday, the Superintendent of Westhampton Beach Schools, said the school board accepted Sheppard’s resignation on Oct. 15.
“The district cooperated fully with the investigation from the beginning and is pleased the criminal matter has been legally resolved,” Radday said in a statement. “We look forward to turning the page on this unfortunate chapter and moving ahead with our focus on academic excellence and our commitment to the safety and well-being of our students.”
Sheppard will be sentenced Dec. 18. The district attorney’s office said they would recommend that he serve the maximum allowable jail time.
Under a plea agreement, however, Sheppard is expected to face five years probation and be ordered to register as a sex offender.
He declined to comment as he left the courthouse Wednesday.