Long Island teacher sentenced for secretly videotaping girls

Kristin Thorne reports
December 18, 2013 2:30:09 PM PST
It was sentencing day for a Long Island teacher who used a cell phone to record girls in a locker room, but he won't be spending any time behind bars.

28-year old Thomas Sheppard held his head high as he walked into court.

The seven young girls and their families are outraged that Sheppard was sentenced to no jail time, only 5 years probation, for admitting he recorded cell phone video of the girls in a locker room at Westhampton Beach Middle School.

"He is cognizant of the impact he had on the children and he hopes they can move on from their lives in a positive way," said defense attorney Peter Brill.

The families refused to speak to us, but inside the courtroom they told the judge the trauma the girls have suffered.

One of the girls addressed Sheppard, saying "You have hurt us all so much. We are only 13 year olds. We are only kids. You are a disgrace to society."

Sheppard told them he's extremely sorry saying, "There is no doubt that all of you can move on and that is my wish. I can only hope you can put this situation behind you."

Sheppard will also have to register as a level one sex offender, the lowest risk.

So why did he do it? Prosecutors revealed Wednesday what Sheppard told them.

"He was disappointed he never achieved his lifelong dream of joining the military or becoming a member of one of our local police departments and he blamed that disappointment in compelling him to act out," said James Chalifoux of the district attorney's office.

It seems the problems are just beginning for the Westhampton Beach School District. The attorney for one of the girls tells us her family is suing the school district as well as Sheppard, taking them both to civil court.