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Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014
Crime & Courts

Former school clerk pleads guilty to stalking former principal and his wife


Published:   |   Updated: September 3, 2014 at 09:51 PM

— A former Hillsborough County school clerk who had an affair with and later stalked her former supervisor at Wharton High School has pleaded guilty to four counts of stalking in Hillsborough County Circuit Court.

Tracey Seenath, 40, agreed on Tuesday to serve four years of probation, receive psychological evaluation and complete 200 hours of community service, the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office said.

Seenath was involved in a relationship with David Sheppard, her supervisor at Wharton. He ended the relationship in December 2011, two months before he was appointed principal at Freedom High School, and Seenath then began stalking David Sheppard and his wife, Donna, according to court records.

Donna Sheppard was found dead in October 2013 at the bottom of the family pool, five days after her husband resigned as Freedom principal. The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled her death a suicide, as did the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

Donna Sheppard’s brother, Michael West, said Wednesday that he remains convinced his sister wouldn’t have taken her own life and wants to see the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office reopen the case.

“Ultimately, it is her fault,” West said of Seenath. “In my eyes she’ll always be to blame. It was her actions that caused the outcome, regardless who did it.”

Besides receiving probation, psychological evaluation and community service, Seenath wrote a letter of apology to Donna Sheppard’s family as part of her plea agreement and agreed not to have contact with them.

In her letter, she expressed her sorrow and regret.

“I was hurt, frightened for my job, and afraid,” Seenath wrote.

According to a sheriff’s office report released earlier this year, David Sheppard found his wife’s fully clothed body at the bottom of the family swimming pool on Oct. 29, 2013. She had a weight-lifting belt around her waist with a 25-pound dumbell attached. A timeline included in the death investigation report shows Seenath was at her New Tampa home the majority of the day Donna Sheppard died.

“They (the investigators) made sure that everything that could be done was done,” Larry McKinnon, a sheriff’s office spokesman, said of the sheriff’s office investigation.

jpatino@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7659

Twitter: @jpatinoTBO

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