Convicted sex offender and former Boyle County Middle School teacher Mark Starr returned to court Thursday proclaiming his innocence on local charges and asking that his guilty plea be tossed out.
Starr, who is serving a 30-year federal sentence on child pornography charges, contended to Boyle Circuit Judge Darren Peckler that his attorney, former public defender Karen Mead, and Commonwealth's Attorney Richie Bottoms pressured him to quickly accept a plea deal on state charges of using a minor in a sexual performance and tampering with evidence.
"I think this makes it clear that I'm innocent of these charges and the plea agreement was achieved in haste and under much duress," Starr said from the witness stand under questioning from his current attorney, Josephine Layne of the state Office for Public Advocacy.
Layne said Starr is hoping to have his guilty plea set aside and take the case to trial.
Starr pleaded guilty in 2006 to state charges that he videotaped a middle school student while she changed clothes in a room adjacent to his office at the school in 2003 and then tried to destroy the tape before investigators obtained it.