BANGOR, Maine — A former special education teacher admitted in federal court on Tuesday that he photographed himself sexually abusing three young boys in 2013 and then emailed the child pornography to other pedophiles.
Patrik Ian Arsenault, 26, of Norridgewock appeared before U.S. District Judge John Woodcock Jr. at the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building to plead guilty to six child pornography criminal charges involving boys age 6 and 7, and another prepubescent child whose age was not provided.
Arsenault faces penalties of 15 to 30 years for each of the three counts of producing child pornography, 15 to 30 years for one count each of transportation and receipt of child pornography, and up to 20 years for possession of child pornography, Woodcock informed him.
“You are subject to an order of restitution for any victims and you are subject to the order of forfeiture for any equipment used in the commission of these crimes,” the federal judge told Arsenault.
Woodcock also informed Arsenault that if convicted he probably would be required to register on the Maine Sex Offender Registry and the federal sex offender registry.
When Woodcock asked if Arsenault, who was given a mental evaluation earlier this year and deemed competent to stand trial in May, understood the charges and possible penalties, the defendant answered, “Yes, your honor.”
After the pleas, Woodcock found Arsenault guilty on the six federal charges.
Arsenault has been in jail since his arrest last August and will remain incarcerated until his sentencing date, which has not been set.
“In July of 2013, an agent with United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations received information that an individual had uploaded images of child pornography to an image-sharing website located outside the United States,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew McCormack states in the prosecution’s version of the events. The images were traced to the defendant’s residence in Norridgewock and to the defendant’s former employer, according to McCormack.
Arsenault had been a teacher in a regional autism program at Wayne Elementary School. He was supposed to start at W.G. Mallett Elementary School in Farmington last fall as a special education teacher in kindergarten through grade three, according to a previously published report.
Arsenault was arrested at his home on Aug. 21, 2013, by Maine State Police and agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement who raided his house. During the search, “Arsenault told us that for approximately a year he had been trading child pornography via email,” Special Agent Anthony Cellanos of Homeland Security Investigations said in the probable cause affidavit filed in court.
“During his interview with law enforcement, the defendant also stated that he had several email trading partners,” according to McCormack’s version of the events, which lists one fellow pedophile in Georgia who also sent Arsenault child porn images. “He admitted that while living in Maine he had sent images and videos of his abuse of [the Maine boys] as well as other images of child pornography to these trading partners.”
Photos and videos of the sexual crimes against the Maine children were discovered by police who searched Arsenault’s computer and external hard drive. Arsenault “can be independently identified in one of the videos by a distinct tattoo located on the inside of his left wrist,” Cellanos states.
In addition to the images and videos of the three Maine boys, “law enforcement also discovered on the hard drive more than 7,500 images and more than 250 videos depicting children in different sexual poses and children engaged in sexual acts with other children and-or adults,” states the affidavit. “These images and videos were not produced by the defendant … and predominantly depict prepubescent male children.”
In addition to the federal charges, Arsenault was charged in state court with three counts of Class A gross sexual assault, three counts of Class A sexual exploitation of a child, three counts of Class A unlawful sexual contact and three counts of Class B unlawful sexual contact, Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said Tuesday.
“We allege more than one day and more than one child,” she said.
Each of the Class A charges carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000, and the Class B unlawful sexual contact carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
“He has been indicted and I just called the clerk and they are setting a date for him to be arraigned,” Maloney said.
Two of the boys assaulted by Arsenault during June and July 2013 are children of someone Arsenault knew in Belgrade and they have mental disabilities, the district attorney said.
After Woodcock found Arsenault guilty on the six federal charges and the forfeiture of property used in the crimes, a woman in the galley of the courtroom stood defiantly with her hand clenched into a fist and glared at him as U.S. marshals put Arsenault into handcuffs and led him away.
Outside the courtroom, she hugged another woman and broke into tears. When approached by a member of the federal prosecution team who asked if she was OK, the crying woman said, “It’s really hard.” She then was escorted away by the victim’s witness advocate.