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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Jury trial cancelled; Mitchell appeals federal indictments

Thursday, October 11, 2007

It's still not over.

The jury trial for Steven Mitchell, the former Melbourne High School agriculture teacher who is currently facing federal charges, was canceled Oct. 1.

Mitchell, 32, of Pineville who is alleged to have taken minors across state lines to engage in sexual activity asked for his indictment to be dismissed, according to U.S. District Court documents.

In April, Mitchell was charged with 12 counts of sex crimes involving former students. He is accused of taking seven under-aged students on out-of-state trips to Kentucky, Texas and Georgia between October 2002 and June 2003 and inappropriately touching them and coercing them to participate in sexual behavior.

The jury selection and trial which was to begin Oct. 1 was canceled after Mitchell said he planned to file an appeal on the court's decision not to dismiss the indictments.

During pre-trial motions, one of the 12 counts was dismissed, according to court documents.

Mitchell also requested that information about his prior sexual assault conviction involving former students and his Level 3 sex offender rating not be allowed in the trial.

In 2004, Mitchell was charged with two counts of first degree sexual assault, two counts of second degree sexual assault, solicitation to commit sexual indecency with a child, five counts of indecent exposure and three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor for encouraging male students to commit sex acts and expose their genitalia by participating in "size contests" while on school sponsored Future Farmers of America trips.

In August 2005, Mitchell's attorneys, Gray Dellinger and Jack Lassiter and 16th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Don McSpadden reached a plea agreement in which Mitchell pleaded guilty to two felony counts of sexual assault, was ordered to register as a sex offender, attend counseling for pedophiles and stay away from his victims.

The current indictment stems from the out-of-state FFA trips where Mitchell allegedly assaulted his students.

Judge J. Leon Homes will allow information to be presented at trial about alleged victims in Mitchell's current indictment, but he will not allow information about former victims, according to court documents.

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