2013-05-16 / News

Former Teacher Tom Hamel Faces Charges

St. Ignace
By Erich T. Doerr

Tom Hamel of St. Ignace was arrested Monday, May 6, on charges relating to child pornography. The charges came following a federal investigation by the U.S. Postal Service and the St. Ignace Police Department. Mr. Hamel is a former St. Ignace Area Schools instructor.

Mr. Hamel, 64, is in custody at the Mackinac County Jail in St. Ignace, held on a $4 million bond. Officials will not confirm or deny the involvement of local children in this case.

“He is now awaiting further court processes,” St. Ignace Police Chief Mark Wilk said.

Mr. Hamel was arraigned Tuesday, May 7, in 92nd District Court in St. Ignace and Mr. Hamel’s preliminary examination is scheduled for Tuesday, May 21, at 2 p.m.

The six-count felony warrant includes four counts of possession of child pornography, a Tier I offense under the Sex Offender Registry Act. He was also charged with two counts of Child Sexually Abusive Activity, a Tier II offense that deals with those who “arrange for, produce, make, copy, reproduce, or finance” child pornography.

If found guilty of Tier II-level charges, he could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. No matter how long his term is, once released he would have to register as a sex offender for the next 25 years and renew that registration every six months. A Tier I guilty charge would mean 15 years of sex offender registration with a single annual renewal.

Mr. Hamel was a teacher for 32 years and taught English, social studies, and history classes at LaSalle High School before he retired in 2009. He was a trainer to the school’s athletic teams, earning him both the nickname “Doc” and a place in the LaSalle High School Hall of Fame. He is also known for other work in the community, such as his 20-year membership in the St. Ignace Lions Club, for which he was honored in February.

After his retirement from teaching, Mr. Hamel continued to volunteer as an athletic trainer with the school until last December. At that time he was removed from the position after investigators told school administrators they may no longer want him in that role.

No further information is being released about the case yet, said Mackinac County Prosecutor Stuart Spencer Monday, May 13.

Mr. Hamel is represented by Joseph Kwiatkowski of Cheboygan.

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