CLEVELAND – A man who spent years teaching children chess is now behind bars for more than a decade.
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Maureen Clancy on Thursday sentenced Terrance Mitchell to 12 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to several charges of pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor.
Mitchell said he never wanted to hurt any children. He added that he spent years showing children how to play chess at Hawken School.
“There’s never been an intention to go beyond images on a computer,” Mitchell said.
The judge and Jennifer O’Malley, an assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, said they feel Mitchell was trying to minimize his actions.
The prosecutor told the court that Mitchell had downloaded the images on several different devices.
“By downloading those images you are victimizing children,” Judge Clancy said.
The following statement was issued by Gina Walter, Director of Strategic Marketing for Hawken:
“We were deeply disturbed by the charges against Terrance Mitchell, a former independent contractor for Hawken School, and we appreciate the judicial system’s work on this case and the just sentence announced in court today.
It is important for us to emphasize that Mr. Mitchell was never a Hawken faculty or staff member. His contracted duties included after school enrichment classes and a summer camp enrichment course. His tenure with us began in January, 2011 and ended in the 2015/2016 school year. As soon as we learned of this issue, we immediately terminated him and prohibited him from entering our campus.
The safety and well-being of every child in our school is of paramount importance, and we take this responsibility very seriously. Prior to employment and on an ongoing basis, members of the faculty and staff as well as independent contractors undergo a thorough background check conducted by the FBI and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations. There was nothing to suggest anything of concern with Mr. Mitchell.
We urge all of our parents and guardians who might have any concerns to contact the Police Department directly.
We are reviewing all of our safety policies and procedures to be certain we are fulfilling our number-one priority: providing a safe and nurturing environment for every one of the children in our care. “