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story.lead_photo.caption Mark Aaron Smith - Photo by Logan County sheriff's office

A former Booneville teacher and coach faces arraignment Oct. 6 in Logan County Circuit Court on 11 counts of video voyeurism that accuse him of video-recording girls changing clothes in a high school bathroom.

Mark Aaron Smith, 39, was charged Friday with video voyeurism, a Class D felony punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Arkansas Code Annotated 5-16-101 (a) states: "It is unlawful to use any camera, videotape, photo-optical, photo-electric, or any other image recording device for the purpose of secretly observing, viewing, photographing, filming, or videotaping a person present in a residence, place of business, school, or other structure, or any room or particular location within that structure, where a person is in a private area out of public view, has a reasonable expectation of privacy, and has not consented to the observation."

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Smith resigned on Sept. 1 after being placed on administrative leave, according to the school superintendent's office. He was in his fourth year as a Booneville high school teacher and coach, according to district employee contract information.

An arrest warrant affidavit filed with the charges said evidence showed Smith placed a cellphone in a soap dispenser in a girls' bathroom at the high school field house Aug. 28. It recorded 11 girls ranging from 13 to 17 years old changing clothes.

A statement released last week by Superintendent John Parrish said parents of the students affected were notified and all female students in grades seven to 12 were given general information about the video recording and were offered counseling.

A cellphone that Smith admitted belonged to him was found recording in the bathroom soap dispenser on the afternoon of Aug. 30, according to the affidavit. Parrish questioned Smith about the cellphone, and Smith admitted the phone was his but denied knowing how it got into the girls' bathroom.

Smith gave Parrish the code to unlock his phone.

"Upon viewing video on Smith's phone, it was clear to school administration that Mark Smith had started the phone recording and placed it in the soap dispenser," the affidavit said.

The affidavit said Smith also downloaded the video from his cellphone onto his classroom computer.

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Investigators obtained a search warrant for the phone. The video "clearly" showed Smith placing the phone and retrieving it, according to the affidavit. On the day the phone was found, Aug. 30, Smith is seen placing the phone in the girls' bathroom, and the person who found it is shown on video removing the phone from the soap dispenser, the affidavit said.

State Desk on 09/12/2017

Print Headline: Teacher charged in illicit videoing; cellphone found in girls’ bathroom

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