By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 25-year-old Burnsville man and former substitute teacher has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for victimizing dozens of people, including minors, as part of a “years-long sextortion scheme,” according to federal prosecutors.

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice for the District of Minnesota announced that Mitchell Ottinger received a 480-month sentence, which will be followed by 25 years of supervised release. He pleaded guilty last year to producing and attempting to produce child pornography, and interstate communication with intent to extort.

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Federal prosecutors say the “crippling” sentence reflects the horrendous nature of Ottinger’s crimes.

“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.”

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The former substitute teacher and paraprofessional obtained sexually explicit images and videos of minors and adults by using false online personas, according to court documents. He then threatened to release the images and videos in order to extort more images and videos from the victims.

Authorities say Ottinger victimized 42 individuals, including at least 23 minors, over several years. Some of those victims he knew from the school district where he worked.

Law enforcement began investigating the sextortion when one of the victims alerted the FBI’s National Threat Operations Center.

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If you know of a child who may have been a victim of exploitation, call the National Center for Missing or Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678 or visit the website.