Former Warden teacher sentenced to 10 years

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Michael Leavitt

SPOKANE — Former Warden City Council member and substitute teacher Michael Leavitt will spend the next ten years in federal prison.

Leavitt, who pleaded guilty in March to receipt of child pornography, was arrested in early 2018 after a student at Warden Elementary School complained to school officials and then to police that Leavitt was using his iPhone to take pictures up her skirt in October 2017.

Judge Thomas Rice last week sentenced Leavitt to 120 months in prison, followed by registration as a federal sex offender and 10 years of supervision upon his release. Leavitt also forfeits three iPhones, an iPad and a Dell desktop computer seized by federal agents as part of their investigation.

Federal prosecutors asked for a prison sentence of 121 months followed by 20 years of supervision. Leavitt’s attorney, Matthew Campbell, asked for 97 months, noting that Leavitt “is a devoted family man” with strong ties to the community and “is determined to overcome his issues with pornography.”

In addition, Leavitt was ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution to a third party, referred to in court documents by the pseudonym “Maureen,” images of whom were found on at least one of his devices. According to a victim impact statement filed by Maureen’s attorney, Bellevue-based Deborah Bianco, Maureen was sexually abused as a young child and although she is now an adult, lives with the anxiety and fear that images of her abuse “continue to be circulated among pedophiles.”

Bianco asked for $10,000 in restitution, part of what she states is Leavitt’s portion of the roughly $450,000 in therapy and legal fees Maureen is expected to incur over the next five years.

As Leavitt is “one of the many pedophiles” who had images of Maureen’s abuse, Bianco wrote it is only just that he is “one of the many who contribute to her recovery.”

While the 1994 Violence Against Women Act allowed for victims of child pornography to demand restitution from possessors, a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court case limited the amount of restitution to “the proportion of the harm that person caused to the victim,” according to the majority ruling written by then-Justice Anthony Kennedy.

According to court documents, Warden Police and federal investigators found “more than 600 images that meet the federal definition of child pornography” on several iPhones, an iPad, and a desktop computer belonging to Leavitt.

“Defendant also possessed numerous images of students at Warden Elementary and other students,” the plea deal states. “In an interview with law enforcement, (Leavitt) acknowledged that he had taken pictures of students without their knowledge.”

Federal prosecutors originally indicted Leavitt on two counts, one of receiving child pornography, and one of possession of child pornography. As part of the plea deal reached in March, prosecutors agreed “not to bring other child pornography or obscenity charges based on information” in their possession “at the time of this plea agreement.”

According to Grant County Prosecuting Attorney Garth Dano, there are no state or local charges pending against Leavitt.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.

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