BANGOR, Maine — A Stockholm man convicted of posting graphic sexual pictures of a 1-month-old girl online was described as “a monster” by the child’s grandmother, just before a federal judge sentenced him to 22 years behind bars for possessing and posting the pornographic images.
Benjamin Rossignol, who pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in May to charges of transportation of child pornography and possession of child pornography, went before U.S. District Judge John Woodcock Jr. on Monday at the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building in Bangor. Rossignol still faces state charges related to the sexual abuse of the child.
“It’s inexplicable. It’s unfathomable how you could have done that,” Woodcock said of the federal crimes the 22-year-old Rossignol committed against the infant.
Woodcock sentenced Rossignol to 20 years in prison for transportation of child pornography — he sent the images to an undercover agent in Australia — and two years for possession of child pornography, as well as 20 years of probation after he is released.
“I want you to think about the pain … the hurtful feelings caused by your actions,” Woodcock told the man, who dropped out of school in the eighth grade but had no criminal history.
Rossignol was taken into custody on Nov. 8 at his home in Stockholm, about 20 miles north of Caribou, and he was charged with sexual exploitation of a minor, dissemination of sexually explicit material, unlawful sexual contact and possession of sexually explicit materials.
Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit investigators discovered that Rossignol took graphic photos of himself sexually abusing the baby and posted them on the Internet, Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said at the time of his arrest.
Rossignol was indicted by a federal grand jury on the two additional charges in March, and he has not entered a plea in any of the state charges. Typically, whenever there are state and federal charges based on the same case, the federal charges, which carry the higher penalties, are handled first.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Lowell, who prosecuted the case, asked for 27 years, and Rossignol’s attorney, Stephen Smith, asked for 20 years.
The child’s grandmother, who the Bangor Daily News is not naming to protect her and the child’s identity, called Rossignol an “evil person” and “a monster.”
“My grandbaby will never remember the pain of his actions, but the rest of the victims will,” she said of her family, her voice breaking with emotion. “We are broken, [but] now it’s time for us to focus on the positives, not the negative.”
She said the biggest positives are that Rossignol was going to prison and will “never step into our lives again.”
The child’s grandmother then thanked the undercover agents and others who caught Rossignol. She then urged the judge to “sentence this monster to the max … to make sure he doesn’t hurt another.”
A second victim, a teenager, wrote a letter to the judge that was sealed by Woodcock to protect her identity.
“This is a tough family,” Lowell said. “They have been through a lot, and there is more to come for them.”
Rossignol has been held at the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton, unable to post $10,000 bail, since his arrest. Three of his family members, both his parents and his stepmother for the last 10 years, asked Woodcock for leniency, saying he needs counseling.
Rossignol was remorseful when he gave his statement.
“I’m sorry your honor. I do need help, I’ve needed it for a while,” he said while apologizing for what he called his “selfish actions.”
After handing down his judgment, the judge ended the sentencing by comforting the family of the victim.
“I am so sorry that you have gone through this. I just can’t imagine what it must be like,” Woodcock said.
He said he hopes his sentence for Rossignol provides the family with “justice” to “help you put this behind you.”