A former teacher at Saanich primary school and leader of the Boys and Girls Club has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for possession of child pornography.
Travis Mitchell, 37, who taught grades 4 and 5 at Hillcrest Elementary School, pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography in June 2020, when parents of a 12-year-old found messages and pictures inappropriate messages on their child’s cell phone.
Mitchell was the child’s former camp leader and had sent sexualized messages, police discovered after the parents approached them. Police arrested Mitchell and seized his cell phone and computer, subsequently finding around 500 to 700 images of child pornography.
A psychological assessment of Mitchell found he had watched child pornography for two years prior to the offense and was first introduced to it at the age of 15 by a 39-year-old man with whom he had had his first sexual relationship.
The assessment found Mitchell had no history of mental illness, but had been thinking about suicide since his arrest. He also said Mitchell was aware that possession of child pornography perpetuates abuse and harm and that he poses a low risk of sexual violence. Problems with self-awareness and stress management have been attributed to the abuse he suffered as a child.
Letters of support from Mitchell’s father, sister, co-workers and advisor were also taken into account. They described him as genuinely remorseful and regretful.
At Mitchell’s sentencing hearing, the Crown argued for a 12-month jail term followed by 12 months of community service, as well as a sex offender designation of 10 years, with a DNA order and the confiscation of his seized cell phone and laptop. His defense suggested a conditional sentence of 12 to 18 months followed by a long period of community supervision, or a jail term of four to six months.
In her Oct. 13 ruling, Judge Karina Sacca said Mitchell’s early guilty plea, commitment to counseling, childhood trauma, and continued support from friends and family, among other factors, contributed to his choice to impose a suspended sentence, instead of a prison sentence. a. She also noted that although Mitchell had a large collection of child pornography, the images were described as “animated” rather than actual. Sacca said Mitchell had already suffered significant humiliation and his young age suggested a good chance at rehab.
The 18-month conditional sentence places Mitchell under house arrest for four months and prohibits him from going to public places where people under the age of 16 may be present (except with his sister) or from communicating with people under the age of 16. 16 years old. .
Mitchell is required to participate in any mental health or sex offender rehabilitation program dictated by his supervisor, is not permitted to own, possess or use any device capable of accessing a computer network and must remain in British Columbia .
A 12-month probation order will follow his sentence and Mitchell will be on the designated sex offender list for 10 years.
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Child PornographyGrand Victoria