Child porn trial begins today

Posted Sept. 07, 2009, at 7:27 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A federal judge will decide whether an Islesford man intended to produce child pornography when he captured images of his girlfriend’s daughter by using hidden bathroom cameras, including one in a toilet, while the girl was a juvenile.

U.S. District Judge John Woodcock will preside over the jury-waived trial of Daniel Poulin, 43, which is scheduled to begin today.

Poulin was indicted in March 2008 by a federal grand jury in Bangor for production of child pornography between 2001 and 2004. He allegedly captured images of the girl in four different residences when she was between the ages of 15 and 18.

None of the images, according to court documents, depicts the girl engaged in what most adults would consider sexual conduct. Many of them show her getting undressed and toweling off after showering.

Poulin has not been charged with distributing the images. He is being tried in U.S. District Court because he allegedly bought the cameras from a Texas firm and they were mailed to him in Maine.

To convict Poulin, federal prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:

ä Knowingly employed or used a minor to engage in conduct that meets the legal definition of “sexually explicit.”

ä Did so for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of the conduct.

ä Captured the images using material that had been mailed, shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.

The government also must prove the images depict the “lascivious display of a minor’s genitals and pubic area,” according to the trial brief filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gail Malone, who is prosecuting the case. To find an image “lascivious,” according to the prosecutor, Woodcock must decide, among other things, whether the focal point of the images are the genitals or pubic area, whether the setting of the images is sexually suggestive or whether the images were intended or designed to elicit a sexual response in the viewer.

The defendant has admitted, according to court documents, that he placed cameras in bathrooms and made recordings that violated individuals’ privacy.

Poulin has denied that any images of a minor were captured on the camera placed in a toilet. He claims that all pictures taken with the toilet camera were of his ex-girlfriend.

Court documents filed by Poulin’s attorney, David Van Dyke of Lewiston, do not explain why the defendant placed the hidden cameras in the bathrooms or toilet.

The investigation that led to the trial began in October 2006, when Poulin’s ex-girlfriend found four DVDs that contained images of her underage daughter in various stages of undress. After a search of Poulin’s mother’s attic turned up another 29 DVDs, the woman took them to the Hancock County sheriff’s office two days after discovering the first footage.

In subsequent searches, deputies, with Poulin’s cooperation, found cameras hidden behind rivets in the walls of the bathroom in a cabin Poulin completed in 2002 in Islesford. Investigators also found a brown briefcase containing four pinhole cameras, a camcorder, 31 minicassette tapes compatible with the camcorder, nearly 50 DVDs and more than a dozen empty condom wrappers, according to court documents.

Poulin pleaded not guilty to the charge nearly 18 months ago. He has been free on $10,000 unsecured bail since then. Poulin’s criminal record includes convictions for 19 misdemeanors and one felony in state court between 1989 and 1998, according to court documents. None of them was a sex charge.

If convicted in federal court, Poulin faces a minimum of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years. He also could be ordered to pay a fine of up to $250,000.

The jury-waived trial is expected to last five or six days. A break of a few days between the time the prosecution rests its case and the defense takes over may occur while Woodcock attends a judicial conference in Washington, D.C., next week.

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