Salem man sentenced in child pornography case
BRENTWOOD - A Salem man who claimed to have gender identity issues after being charged with attempted possession of child pornography was sentenced 2 to 15 years in state prison, but allowed to remain free pending his appeal.
David Lantagne, 47, was sentenced Friday afternoon on three counts of attempted possession of child sexual abuse images stemming from his July 2011 arrest at Canobie Lake Park in Salem. He also received two suspended prison terms of 3 ½ to 7 years in prison on two of the charges.
Lantagne was caught taking photographs of young girls at a water slide in the park in July 2011 using his cell phone. He later admitted in a police interview that he had a "serious problem" viewing child pornography stored on his computer. Salem police used those statements to obtain a search warrant to seize Lantagne's computer and an external hard drive.
Defense lawyer John Macoul argued against the testimony of Manchester police Detective Tim Craig, a member of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, at Friday's hearing about searching Lantagne's hard drive. Craig testified that after identifying some of the photos, he concluded that Lantagne exhibited signs of "categorization" - a habit of organizing and collecting troves of child pornography.
Macoul argued the testimony went beyond the scope of the three convictions his client was being sentenced for.
Judge Marguerite Wageling disagreed, saying she was allowed to consider evidence beyond Langtagne's conviction in order to reach a just sentence. Assistant County Attorney Lisa Cirulli argued for Lantagne to serve a 4-to-8 year prison term, saying he needed both treatment and punishment for his actions.
"He needs the help that only the state sex offender program can provide," Cirulli said.
Wageling agreed that Lantagne needed to serve a state prison sentence, but credited him for admitting to his problem and immediately seeking treatment without prompting from the court.
"I find he was honest with the police and cooperated with them," Wageling said. "He is a danger and committed very serious crimes and he needs to be punished for that."
Macoul asked for a suspended prison term so that Lantagne could continue with his counseling. He said his client lost everything, including his job, health insurance and his relationship with his daughter since his arrest, but maintained he posed a danger to no one.
He said that his client has obeyed all court orders while free on bail and has been seeking treatment of gender-identity disorder while awaiting disposition of his case. Wageling said she could not make a finding that would require Lantagne to begin serving his sentence while his case is appealed.
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James A. Kimble may be reached at JKimble@newstote.com..