SHADMIA'S WORLD

Just Another Guy with Opinions

Psychologist Gets 7 Years for Child Porn

Posted by shadmia on January 24, 2009

Dr. Joseph Belanger

Dr. Joseph Belanger, 61, of Jamestown, ND, a former mental hospital psychologist who said he became interested in child pornography while treating sex offenders was sentenced to seven years in prison. He plead guilty in court to two charges of receiving materials involving the sexual exploitation of minors. When asked by U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Erickson if the allegations against him were true, he looked up at the judge and in a quiet deep voice replied: “Yes, Your Honor”. With those three words Belanger became a convicted child sex offender. Read the full story here.

His sentencing originally scheduled for Dec. 11, 2008 had been delayed until Jan. 23, 2009. He had faced a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a mandatory minimum term of five years. In sentencing Belanger to 7 years behind bars, Judge Ralph Erickson said he should have taken advantage of his experience and background to seek treatment for himself.

“He, of all people, should have known there was help available,” Erickson said.

Dr. Belanger, a former psychologist at North Dakota State Hospital, worked for 20 years examining sex offenders and testifying in court as an expert witness in hundreds of cases. He was targeted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in an investigation code named Operation Flicker. He was accused of subscribing to and paying for downloading child pornography from various websites.

Defense attorney Steven Light said a psychologist’s report showed his client was a good candidate for rehabilitation. Belanger cooperated with authorities and had no previous criminal history. “He’s not a hands-on offender,” Light said.

During the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Klemetsrud Puhl read a victim impact statement from a 17-year-old girl who had been sexually molested by her father when she was 10 or 11. Images of the girl were posted on porn sites accessed by Belanger.

Victims in such cases “are traumatized in a way that never really ends,” Judge Ralph Erickson said.

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