Salt Lake County Jail
Michael Scott Hatfield

WEST JORDAN — Michael Scott Hatfield insists he's not a predator.

"I know what I did was wrong," a very apologetic and remorseful Hatfield told the court Tuesday before being sentenced. "I've never been more profoundly remorseful for anything I've done in my life ever."

But while 3rd District Judge Douglas Hogan said he appreciated the fact Hatfield seemed to be owning up to his actions, and recognized that Hatfield had no prior criminal history, a lifetime of good work doesn't make up for his "serious reprehensible conduct," he said.

On Tuesday, Hogan sentenced the former middle school teacher accused of bringing two scrapbooks of child pornography to school — some of which had captions under the pictures that insinuated teacher-student sexual fantasies — to one to 15 years at the Utah State Prison.

Hatfield, 59, of Midvale, pleaded no contest in March to four counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, a second-degree felony, and three counts of accessing pornographic or indecent material on school property, a class A misdemeanor.

The former American Preparatory Academy teacher had originally faced seven exploitation charges. The remaining three counts were dismissed as part of a plea deal.

Hatfield, who has been in custody since his arrest over a year ago, pleaded with the judge to sentence him to time already served and place him on probation so he could continue with therapy. With his hands handcuffed behind his back and his legs shackled and his attorney holding his prepared statement for him, Hatfield made an emotional plea for nearly 15 minutes to the judge.

He blamed "wrong thinking and bad choices” for the situation he is in now.

Hatfield made several apologies to his family, his former students and co-workers. He believes undiagnosed and untreated issues from his past were, in part, to blame for his actions. When he was a child, a friend of his was hit and killed by a car in an incident that some blamed on Hatfleld. And while in custody, he said doctors diagnosed him as having Asperger's, something he said he never knew he had. Letters submitted to the court also suggested that Hatfield has struggled in the past with alcoholism and depression.

In dealing with his grief, Hatfield said Tuesday that he believes it “spiraled into a dark place," which he said "got more bizarre and dark."

"It got out of control," he said. "I lost and betrayed the principles I’ve tried to live by."

"What I am sure of is I'm not a predator," he said. "I have never crossed the line with any of my students or any children ever. … I never had a thought of sexual relations with a child."

Attorneys also noted in court that Hatfield has stated the pictures in the scrapbook represented fantasies he had at a younger age with children his own age at that time.

But prosecutors said the evidence in the scrapbooks say otherwise.

"The problem is that scrapbook does not reflect that," said assistant Utah attorney general Ryan Holton.

As part of his statements before sentencing, Holton showed the judge pages of the scrapbooks, noting that the captions on the pictures — such as "Old men know how to do it better" — are clearly "predatory," and not from the viewpoint of a young boy.

Some of the captions in his scrapbook reference student-teacher relations, he said. The images were composites of pornographic pictures of adults placed with images of clothed and unclothed children from art books and photographs, including people he knew.

"His act constitutes the creation of new child pornography," Holton said, while concluding that Hatfield had shown an "unabashed predatory desire he has not taken credit for."

Holton stressed that Hatfield was so addicted to his pornographic scrapbooks, that "He couldn’t make it though a day without it. He brought this to school, to the classroom. He was masturbating between class, during school, during school hours."

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Outside the courtroom after the hearing, Holton said he was pleased with the sentence and reiterated that prosecutors do not agree that no children were harmed.

"The creation of child pornography by itself is victimizing children. It doesn't necessitate touching children. It doesn't necessitate an act like the way he thinks it does. And that's part of the problem is he fails to recognize the criminality of what he did, and that's what makes somebody especially a high risk to reoffend," Holton said. "I think Judge Hogan did exactly what justice required."