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St Paul (KROC AM News) -  A Minnesota man who was charged with setting up an extensive online sextortion scheme that victimized adults and children has been sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Federal prosecutors say while running the scheme for several years, 25-year-old Michael Ottinger was working as a substitute teacher and paraprofessional.

Sherburne County Sheriff's Office photo
Sherburne County Sheriff's Office photo

The Carver County man was accused of convincing his victims to send him sexually explicit images and videos. He then threatened to disseminate the images and videos if they refused to send him more.

According to court documents, Ottinger created and used multiple Internet accounts to encourage and direct minors and an adult to create sexually explicit images and videos of themselves to send to Ottinger. Ottinger posed as a young female using aliases including “Taylor Malek” or “Rachel Meyer,” in order to obtain the images and videos. If a victim later blocked or ignored “her,” Ottinger would contact the victim—through the alias or other accounts—and threaten to publish the victim’s sexually explicit image(s) to others unless additional demands for sexually explicit images were met. This conduct is sometimes referred to as “sextortion.”

“For nearly a decade, Mitchell Ottinger engaged in a sextortion scheme that targeted dozens of vulnerable, young victims. This predator will now spend the next 40 years behind bars,” said U.S. Attorney Luger.

The US Attorney’s office says 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.

“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,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Paul. “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.”

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

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