Former Twin Cities substitute teacher pleads guilty to ‘sextortion’ scheme


October 20 – A former substitute teacher from Twin Cities has pleaded guilty to targeting minors as part of an online “sextortion” program.

Mitchell James Ottinger, 25, of Carver, posed online as a teenager to solicit nude photos of boys as young as 10, threatening to release the explicit footage if the boys refused to send more, according to an agreement from plea filed Monday in the US District Search.

Ottinger pleaded guilty to two counts of producing or attempting to produce child pornography and one count of extortion, court documents show.

A sentencing hearing for Ottinger has not yet been scheduled. He faces up to 62 years in prison.

Before being charged in May, Ottinger worked as a substitute teacher and paraprofessional at schools in Eastern Carver County, and he met some of his victims in the course of his work, according to a press release issued by the prosecutor’s office. American.

The district did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Tuesday night.

In his plea deal with prosecutors, Ottinger admitted to victimizing at least 10 children as part of the sextortion program, which dates back to at least 2012 – when he was a teenager – and continued for nearly d ‘a decade.

The crimes described in the criminal complaint against him all took place while Ottinger was an adult.

In 2020, for example, Ottinger allegedly posed as a teenage girl named Rachel Meyer to contact her victims through social media or dating apps and express a romantic interest in them.

Ottinger then convinced the boys to send him sexually explicit photos of themselves in exchange for photos of Ottinger’s fictional female character, according to the criminal complaint.

When the boys refused to send more photos or started blocking Ottinger’s account, he threatened to distribute their nude photos.

FBI investigators were alerted to the case in July 2020, when one of the teens contacted them to report that they had been “catfished,” a term that describes luring someone into a romantic relationship by using a fake character online.

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