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April 23, 2013

Substitute teacher receives jail time, probation on child porn charge

By Brian Louwers and Maria Allard
C & G Staff Writers

MOUNT CLEMENS — A former Van Dyke Public Schools substitute teacher who faced one count of possession of child sexually abusive material said he takes “full responsibility” of his actions and that it was “the biggest mistake” of his life.

“I’m not just ashamed of what I’ve done, I’m mortified,” Mark Brittan said before Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Richard Caretti April 23. “I look forward to the day when I put this nightmare behind me.”

After listening to the defendant, Caretti sentenced him to seven months in the Macomb County jail, five years probation and ordered him to register on the Michigan Public Sex Offender Registry. As part of the sentence, Brittan also must stay 1,000 feet from school property, not have contact with anyone age 17 or younger, and cannot go within 500 feet of parks, playgrounds and daycare centers.

“The community has a right to hold its elementary school teachers to a higher standard,” Caretti said.

William Harding of the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office prosecuted the case before the judge. There was not a trial. Brittan’s attorney Jack Jaffe had asked the judge for no jail time.

Brittan, of Hazel Park, was 37 at the time of his arraignment before Warren 37th District Court Judge John Chmura in August 2012. Warren police began investigating Brittan after they learned a 7-year-old female student told her mother that Brittan had asked her to pose for a photo.

While the girl was fully clothed in the photo she told her mom she was told to pose. The mother told a school resource officer, the matter was investigated and a report was filed.

While the situation didn’t warrant any criminal charges, it did result in further investigation. Last June, police executed a search warrant at Brittan’s residence, where they seized a computer and other materials. An analysis of those materials and statements from Brittan during an interview with detectives resulted in the authorizatioin of criminal charges for possessing child pornography Aug. 27.

Jaffe said Brittan is “no longer working as a substitute teacher,” but is working as a tutor at Oakland Community College.

“He fully accepted what he did was wrong,” Jaffe said, adding his client has completed 48 hours of community service and is undergoing counseling. “Both professionals indicated my client has made tremendous strides in (the) counseling he’s had. He has gained insight into the problems he has had.”

“I believe I have made some progress toward my rehabilitation,” Brittan said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Brian Louwers at brianlouwers@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1089.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Maria Allard at allard@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1045.