A retired San Diego teacher and counselor will now spend the next seven years in prison for possessing nearly one million images of child pornography, the office of U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy confirmed Friday.
James Rick Mitchell, 67 – a former San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) educator employed by the district for 34 years – was busted as a collector of child pornography through an investigation by the United States Postal Service into a commercial distributor of child porn.
According to court documents, the investigation revealed that between 2006 and 2011, Mitchell collected 942,542 images and 4,751 videos depicting children engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Over that five-year period, Mitchell spent approximately $4,300 to purchase dozens of those illicit images and videos, according to investigators.
U.S. Postal Inspectors executed a search warrant at Mitchell’s home and uncovered a trove of child porn that he had collected over time.
With Friday’s sentencing, Mitchell will serve 84 months behind bars, followed by five years of supervised release.
He’s expected to self-surrender to begin serving his sentence on Feb. 7, 2014.
Duffy’s office said Mitchell was employed by the SDUSD between 1969 and 2003. He worked as a physical education teacher and counselor at Einstein Junior High School and as a math teacher and track coach at Point Loma High School.
For 24 years between 1979 and 2003, Mitchell worked as a math teacher and track coach at University High School.
During the sentencing, a judge told Mitchell he had cast “pallor” on his long career as an educator with his actions.
Mitchell’s case was part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse. The San Diego Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force assisted in the takedown of Mitchell alongside the U.S. Postal Service.