Warden man suspected of child porn released

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SPOKANE — A former Warden City Council member and part-time substitute teacher who is facing federal child pornography charges was released in early October, according to federal court documents.

Michael Leavitt, 53, was ordered released at an Oct. 9 hearing in Spokane by United States Magistrate Judge John T. Rodgers, who noted that while Leavitt’s interest “in child pornography and his actions involving his student pose a great danger to the community,” he ruled that federal prosecutors have not shown “by clear and convincing evidence that Defendant poses a present risk to the safety of other persons or the community.”

Among the conditions of his release, Leavitt must reside at his parents’ home, submit to electronic monitoring, remain in regular contact with his attorney and a parole officer and refrain from any contact with minors.

“The United States argued strenuously against his release,” said a source with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Spokane.

Leavitt’s attorney, Matthew Campbell, a Spokane-based public defender, said he had no comment on Leavitt’s release.

Grant County prosecutors originally charged Leavitt, 53, with voyeurism in March after discovering that he had been using his iPhone to surreptitiously record video up the dress of one of his students, who later reported him to police.

While Leavitt was released from the Grant County jail on $85,000 bail, FBI officers arrested Leavitt on Sept. 20, charging him with two counts of possession of child pornography and one count of receiving child pornography.

A federal indictment dated Sept. 18, 2018, states that Leavitt “did knowingly receive child pornography” on or about March 2, 2018, and was in possession of images of “a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct” on March 29, 2018.

Rodgers cites Leavitt’s community and family ties, lack of criminal history (he had a DUI in 2003) as well as “long-standing” relationship to Warden as arguments in favor of releasing Leavitt.

“Previously, Defendant was reported to be actively involved in his community as a city councilman, an LDS elder, a Boy Scout leader, a volunteer firefighter, and a substitute teacher,” Rodgers wrote. “While defense counsel reports that he no longer holds any of these positions, a history of community ties favors release.”

However, the source with the U.S. Attorney’s office said given the nature of Leavitt’s crime, those community ties — and the trust they engendered — were the problem.

No date has been set for a trial in the case. If convicted of the federal charges, Leavitt faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for each possession count and anywhere from five to 20 years for receiving child pornography.

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

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