SALT LAKE COUNTY – A West Valley City middle school teacher has been sentenced to prison on Tuesday by a Salt Lake County Third District Court judge.
59-year-old Michael Scott Hatfield was charged and plead no contest to four federal counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, and three class A misdemeanors of accessing pornographic material on school property.
He was sentenced one to 15 years in prison for each of the four federal charges, but they will run concurrently. The judge gave him credit for his time already served, 370 days for the three misdemeanor counts.
Before the sentencing, Hatfield addressed the court.
“I assume full responsibility and I am deeply sorry and remorseful for the suffering that I have caused to so many,” said Hatfield.
Hatfield`s defense attorney Heather Chestnut said while incarcerated Hatfield was diagnosed on the autism spectrum with Asperger’s syndrome. She said it explains why he resorted to sexual activity for releasing social anxiety. Chestnut explained those with Asperger’s typically turn to sex, drugs or alcohol for social anxiety.
“It was a huge relief to discover there were reasons for my self-destructive behavior,” said Hatfield during his statement. “Not excuses for them, sir, but perhaps, reasons to help understand.”
State Prosecutor Ryan Holtan showed the judge two scrapbooks Hatfield used in and or after his middle school classroom at American Preparatory Academy. Some of the images had his relatives in them.
“That particular image; it stabs at my soul,” said Hatfield when the judge asked him why he used those images in his scrapbook. “I’ve never been more ashamed of anything.”
Hatfield choked back tears, as he made those remarks responding to the judge’s question.
“He fails to recognize the criminality of what he did and that`s what makes somebody especially high risk,” said Holtan.
Chestnut said this case is unlike other child pornography cases.
“We normally think of child pornography is a crime because it involves the sexual abuse of children,” said Chestnut after the sentencing. “… But in this case, none of that occurred. He cut and pasted pictures from adult pornography magazines and used clothed (and not clothed) images of children and cut and pasted them onto a scrapbook.”
The nude images that were used in Hatfield’s scrapbook were not illegally taken images, for example, Chestnut said they were children sitting in a bathtub.
Chestnut said she was disappointed in the judge’s ruling because there is no therapy or treatment for Asperger’s syndrome inside of the prison. It will be up to the parole board to determine how long Hatfield will stay in prison for his charges.