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Former Bethel principal sentenced to 15 years after pleading guilty to attempted coercion, enticement of a minor

Photo of Christopher Carmichael from Lower Kuskokwim School District website
Photo of Christopher Carmichael from Lower Kuskokwim School District website(KTUU)
Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 11:48 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The former Bethel principal who pleaded guilty last November to the attempted coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity was sentenced to 15 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release in federal court Tuesday morning.

Christopher Carmichael, 57, worked at Gladys Jung Elementary School in the Lower Kuskokwim School District prior to his arrest. A former student reported to Bethel police in June 2019 that Carmichael had inappropriately touched her during her time in the elementary school. The girl had graduated but was still underage when contact began, according to the criminal affidavit.

After receiving notice, a Bethel police lieutenant took over the victim’s communications with Carmichael, and later introduced an undercover FBI agent posing as the victim’s 13-year-old cousin. He was arrested on multiple charges in December 2019.

Tuesday morning, the courtroom opened with emotional statements from the victim and her mother.

“I sent my daughter to school believing she was safe,” the mother said. “Principal Carmichael is so popular that they still refuse to believe he committed those crimes.”

“I’d rather he stay in jail until he dies,” the victim said in a written statement.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska recommended a 40-year prison sentence and supervised release for life. Carmichael’s attorney, however, sought a 15-year prison sentence followed by a lifetime of supervised release, noting Carmichael’s rough childhood, military background and shared a psychologist’s evaluation to support the shorter sentence.

During Carmichael’s final statement, he explained his efforts to seek help for his PTSD and prior sexual abuse. Carmichael then broke down in tears as he shared his remorse for his actions.

The sentencing concluded with U.S. Chief District Judge Timothy Burgess pointing out the various factors that play into Carmichael’s case, such as his previous abuse from childhood, crimes committed, similar cases’ sentencings and public safety.

“This type of crime can echo through time,” Burgess said. “I hope this stops now.”

Following the sentencing, multiple officials shared their input on the decision.

“With today’s sentencing we have removed this predator from the community and sent a resounding message that we are committed to aggressively prosecuting anyone who seeks to exploit children,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bryan Wilson, District of Alaska in a press release.

“No child should ever have to go through this. Parents and communities entrusted Carmichael with a great responsibility, but he abused that position of trust in the most disgraceful way imaginable,” said Special Agent in Charge Robert Britt of the FBI Anchorage Field Office. “Carmichael will now be held accountable for his horribly disturbing conduct.”

Carmichael faces another sentencing hearing on state charges of sexual abuse of a minor next week.

Resources: If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, resources are available on the Standing Together Against Rape (STAR) website or by calling the statewide crisis hotline at 1-800-478-8999.

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