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Former Saunemin teacher, coach sentenced 12 years for child porn

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PONTIAC – A former Saunemin Community School District teacher and coach was sentenced to 12 years in prison Thursday for producing child pornography.

James “Mike” Stoecklin, 58, pleaded guilty in July to one count of child pornography production. A second charge of child pornography was dismissed in a plea agreement.

Stoecklin was the dean of students and athletic director at Saunemin Community Consolidated School District, and he coached a youth basketball team. He was employed with the school district for 26 years. He also previously served as mayor of Saunemin for 12 years.

Stoecklin was arrested in June 2019 after an internal investigation by the school district.

Livingston County State’s Attorney Randy Yedinak said Stoecklin video recorded the victim – a 15-year-old boy on the basketball team – while he was showering at the school. He said the offenses occurred between September and December of 2018.

The prosecutor said Stoecklin took the boy on trips and also videotaped him viewing pornography at the school. He said he used Stoecklin's words when characterizing the actions as a “catastrophic breach of trust.”

“At a time and in a place when he was supposed to be protecting this victim, he is doing literally the exact opposite,” Yedinak said prior to asking the judge to issue a 12-year sentence – the maximum sentence under the plea agreement.

The victim’s mother read a victim impact statement that said “we all trusted Mike,” and that he “destroyed an innocent boy and his family.”

She said the victim lost interest in basketball and “no longer had a drive and lost all of his motivation.”

Defense lawyer James Casson asked Judge Jennifer Bauknecht to issue the minimum sentence of six years in prison, pointing to Stoecklin’s lack of criminal history and his effort at rehabilitation.

Casson also said there was no evidence of dissemination or copying of the videos.

In about a 15-minute statement of allocution, Stoecklin said he enrolled in sex offender counseling immediately after he posted bond in October 2019. His initial bond was set at $25,000, but it was reduced about four months later to $5,000.

“I think what I’ve learned through their help is that for those kinds of things to happen, it takes a little bit of arrogance, it takes an unwillingness or inability to fight temptation and I think most specifically for me, a misplacement or misalignment with life’s priorities,” Stoecklin said.

Bauknecht said that while “it’s OK” for Stoecklin to improve himself and move on, she does not think the community is able to improve until “they understand very clearly that this can’t happen, period. Can’t happen.”

“We expect better of our coaches, we expect better of our teachers,” Bauknecht said.

Stoecklin is eligible for 50% "good time" credit, meaning his sentence could be reduced to six years.

The judge added that to her, a minimum sentence was not applicable to this case because of Stoecklin’s position as a coach and teacher at the time. She also said the case was not a one-time incident.

“I don’t think this was a momentary lapse in judgment,” Bauknecht said. “I mean, it was a pattern of conduct where actions were taken and there were many points in time when you could’ve stepped back, perhaps realized that this is not smart, but you took more and more steps in the wrong direction over a course of time.”


Contact Kade Heather at 309-820-3256. Follow him on Twitter: @kadeheather

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