A Carver man has been charged in a case involving child pornography and sextortion.
Mitchell James Ottinger, 25, was charged with two counts of production and attempted production of child pornography and two counts of threatening extortion, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office. Ottinger worked as a substitute teacher and paraprofessional, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court.
In an e-mail to parents, Eastern Carver County School District superintendent Lisa Sayles-Adams said Ottinger worked as a substitute teacher there and staff are "cooperating fully with investigators."
He is no longer employed by the school district.
"This is a tremendously difficult day for our students, parents and community," Sayles-Adams said in a statement to the Star Tribune on Thursday. "I know we all have questions, but right now we have to trust in the work of the FBI and Department of Justice. Our focus as a district is to support our students and staff and make sure they are taken care of."
An image authorities obtained from Ottinger's e-mail showed his work badge for an elementary school, according to the complaint.
In 2017, a district employee who worked as a principal at Chanhassen High School pleaded guilty to child pornography charges.
Ottinger is accused of pretending to be a young female with a romantic or sexual interest in his victims, then luring minors and an adult into sending explicit images and videos.
If a victim sent him an explicit image and then blocked or ignored him, he would contact them on another account and threaten to publish the explicit material to friends and family unless demands for additional ones were met.
A victim, who was 15 at the time, reported the man to the FBI's National Threat Operations Center in July 2020.
Authorities believe Ottinger engaged in sextortion and related activities since at least 2012. They believe there may be more victims.
Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI Minneapolis Division at 763-569-8000.
Alex Chhith • 612-673-4759