PORTLAND, Maine — A Brunswick man whose case has been been in federal court since 2008 was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court to five years in federal prison for possession of child pornography.
Brian K. Rogers, 25, also was ordered to pay more than $3,000 in restitution to a victim in a video he downloaded. He is the first person in Maine to be ordered to pay restitution in a child pornography case.
In addition to prison time, U.S. District Judge George Singal sentenced Rogers to eight years of supervised release.
Rogers was charged in October 2008. He pleaded guilty nine months later but was allowed to withdraw his guilty plea after the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston ruled he had not been properly informed of his right to remain silent by investigators.
Rogers was convicted earlier this year by a jury. He has been held without bail since his arrest.
The investigation that led to his arrest and conviction began in July 2008 when Rogers sold his laptop computer to Coastal Trading Post in Brunswick. An employee called police after he found what appeared to be photographs and videos of child pornography on it.
One of those videos featured a girl known as Vicky, who from the time she was 10 until she was 12 was sexually abused by her father, according to a report published in May 2010 by the Billings (Mont.) Gazette. Photos and videos depicting the girl are considered to be among the most widely circulated in the world.
Images of the girl had been identified by the the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in about 8,000 cases, Vicky’s attorney, Carol Hepburn of Seattle, told the Gazette two years ago. Hepburn and other attorneys for victims have been requesting damages in child pornography cases in federal court in Maine for several years. Until Rogers’ case, they were always denied.
What changed, Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Wolff said Thursday, was a recent decision by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston that upheld a restitution award in a Massachusetts case. Wolff asked that Rogers pay Vicky $3,150 to cover 18 therapy sessions at a cost of $175 per session.
“There is no question that the defendant’s actions in possessing and facilitating the further dissemination of Vicky’s images have contributed to the ‘slow acid drip’ on Vicky’s psychological well-being,” Wolff wrote in his sentencing memorandum.
Rogers’ attorney, Sarah Churchill of Portland, argued against the restitution order in her sentencing memorandum. She said Vicky’s attorney’s restitution request was not specific enough.
“There is a detailed account of the continuing harm that the distribution of images causes the victim, but there is no request for monetary compensation,” Churchill wrote. “In addition, the request for restitution involves a request for future services whereas the statute indicates awards are for losses that are incurred.”
Vicky’s attorney submitted a packet of information to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the court, Wolff said. Those documents were not made public in Maine, but Vicky’s victim impact statement was printed in the Gazette two years ago.
“Every time they are downloaded I am exploited again, my privacy is breached, and my life feels less and less safe,” wrote Vicky, who is now in her early 20s. “I will never be able to have control over who sees me raped as a child. It’s all out there for the world to see and it can never be removed from the Internet. I only ask that those who have exploited me be brought to justice to hopefully deter some others from doing the same and to lessen my shame.”
Wolff said that now that the appellate court has ruled on the matter, his office will be asking for restitution more often in child pornography cases where victims’ identities are known.
Rogers faced up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Wolff recommended that Rogers go to prison for 6½ years and be on supervised release for eight years. Churchill urged the judge to sentence Rogers to three years and seven months in prison and five years of supervised release.
Correction: An earlier version of this story contained an error. The Brunswick man sentenced in the case was referred to as Higgins rather than Rogers in the final paragraph.