Douglas Mynatt

Mynatt

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PEORIA — A federal judge Thursday sentenced a former University Laboratory High School teacher and coach to 10 years in prison for possessing and sharing child pornography.

“To come to a sentence that is appropriate but not greater than necessary requires me to consider that you have actually thrown your life away already,” Judge James Shadid told Douglas Mynatt.

Mynatt, 57, told the judge in a four-minute statement that part of him was relieved he was caught in April, pulled from his Savoy home by sheriff’s investigators who had become aware of his viewing and sharing of child pornography, both from his home and at the Urbana high school where he had been a gym teacher and cross-country coach for more than 20 years.

Mynatt pleaded guilty in October to three counts of distribution of child pornography, which took place on three days in January 2020, and one count of possession of child pornography in early April. Some of the images were of girls as young as 6 to 9, prosecutors said.

“Some part of me was broken and needed to be stopped,” said the husband and father who expressed remorse at the shame and harm he has caused his wife of 18 years and their son.

He also said he was sorry to the victims of the abuse and exploitation whose images he viewed.

“I can’t imagine how I would feel if it were my own child,” said Mynatt, adding he is open to any kind of program to treat his addiction. “I know better than this. I should not be here today and I am so sorry.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Elly Peirson had sought a sentence for Mynatt at the low end of the sentencing guidelines, urging a 10 percent discount for his cooperation with law enforcement, even though it did not result in the prosecution of anyone else. That would have made his minimum sentence 12½ years.

However, she said Mynatt’s “breach of trust” of his own students made his case more aggravating than other typical viewers of child pornography.

In answer to a question from Shadid, Peirson said the government found no evidence that Mynatt had engaged in sexual contact of any kind with a minor.

Mynatt’s court-appointed attorney, Assistant Public Defender Elisabeth Pollock, argued for a minimal sentence, calling Mynatt’s crime a mental illness characterized by his addiction to viewing pornography.

She said it started with him looking at adult pornography and morphed a few years ago into him looking at sexual images of children. She reminded the judge there were “zero allegations that he touched a child.”

She said Mynatt had no prior criminal convictions, “not even a traffic ticket,” and that the court had 45 pages of letters from people supportive of him.

“There is no reason why Doug Mynatt needs to spend 12 years in prison. It’s not going to fix him or help the community. He needs a sentence that reflects the seriousness of his conduct and the public is guaranteed they’ll be protected and gives him a chance to fix himself,” Pollock argued.

Shadid said teachers and coaches can be “role models, mentors, people that set good examples and help young people get on the right track … or they can be part of traumatizing young people in many different ways.”

“In some regard, Mr. Mynatt, you were both.”

After prison, Mynatt will be on supervised release for 15 years. He will also have to register as a sex offender.

Reporter

Mary Schenk is a reporter covering police, courts and breaking news at The News-Gazette. Her email is mschenk@news-gazette.com, and you can follow her on Twitter (@schenk).

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