Former substitute teacher will serve 40 years for ‘sextortion’ scheme

A former Carver County substitute teacher has been sentenced for his part in a scheme that sexually exploited minors using fake online personas. 

Mitchell James Ottinger, 25, a former substitute teacher and paraprofessional was sentenced to 480 months in prison followed by 25 years of supervised release for producing child pornography and extortion related to a years-long sextortion scheme.

According to court documents, Ottinger engaged in a scheme to obtain sexually explicit images and videos of minors and adults by using false online personas. When confronted, Ottinger threatened to disseminate the images and videos of his victims in order to extort more images and videos. 

Over the course of several years Ottinger victimized 42 people, including at least 23 minors, some of whom he knew from the school district where he worked. 

Law enforcement was alerted to the sextortion when one of the victims contacted the FBI’s National Threat Operations Center and reported the threats. 

"Today's crippling sentence reflects the heinous nature of the defendant's crimes, as he used his position of trust and authority to find his victims, and traumatize them," FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Paul said in an announcement. "Sextortion is a crime that can victimize any child and the FBI will continue to work with our partners and in our communities to make sure our children know that help is available and that we will spare no effort in hunting down their predators."

On October 19, 2021, Ottinger pleaded guilty to two counts of production and attempted production of child pornography, and one count of interstate communication with intent to extort. 
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. 

If you know of any child who may have been a victim of exploitation, you’re urged to call the National Center for Missing or Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) or visit NCMEC’s website.