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Conviction of man who admitted having child porn thrown out

12-24-2013 New Hampshire:

The state Supreme Judicial Court has overturned the guilty plea, conviction and 2-15 year prison sentence of a man who police said admitted possessing child pornography.

David Latagne agreed to plead guilty to a reduced charge of attempted possession of child pornography last year and was sentenced to 2-15 years in state prison.

But the plea deal came only after a judge refused to throw out Latagne's admission to police that he possessed child porn and the results of a search of his computer. The agreement allowed him to remain free while he appealed that ruling.

Salem police arrested Lantagne at Canobie Lake Park in July, 2013 on disorderly conduct charges after getting complaints that he was taking pictures of young girls' backsides as they emerged from a water ride.

In a unanimous decision, the justices said since the disorderly conduct charge did not meet the legal standard for that crime, the arrest was "unlawful" and prosecutors could not use statements made when he was questioned while police were holding him on that charge.

The court said Lantagne was arrested after a woman complained to a security guard that Lantagne made her "nervous," and the guard observed Lantagne positioning his cell phone on the side of his leg and aiming at young girls clad in swim suits.

The officer said Lantagne admitted taking the pictures and saying that he had an attraction to young girls, calling it "a problem.



Lantagne was arrested for disorderly conduct and taken to the Salem police station.

Police said that during several hours of questioning after his arrest, Lantagne "admitted that he possessed child pornography" on a computer in his bedroom. A search warrant was obtained and prosecutors notified the court and Lantagne's lawyer they would use the evidence at trial.

The justices said "photographing properly-attired children in an open and public portion of Canobie Lake Park" does not meet the legal definition of disorderly conduct. The ruling said evidence obtained when he was in custody following an "unlawful" arrest could not be used at trial.

Salem police never pursued the disorderly conduct charge, the court noted. ..Source.. by BILL SMITH, New Hampshire Union Leader



New Hampshire Supreme Court Overturns David Lantagne's Child Sex Offender Conviction

Is a photo of a toddler in a bathing suit in public space child pornography? According to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, the answer is “No.” A 47 year-old man from Salem, N.H. was sentenced to 15 years (7 years more than prosecution recommended) last year after he was caught taking pictures of children at a public water park with his cell phone. According to the Eagle-Tribune, David Lantagne confessed to Canobie Lake Park security in 2011 that he has a “problem” and that he had also photographed little girls at a nearby shopping mall. Initially, the charges were violation of privacy and disorderly conduct, but his attorney said that the cell phone photos were obtained illegally. Before incarceration he sought “sex offender treatment,” which impressed the prosecutor, but not the judge.

According to the Associated Press, the N.H. Supreme Court “unanimously ruled that the evidence gathered after Lantagne’s illegal arrest should have been barred.” While Lantagne’s motivations may have been lascivious, the court said that pictures of “properly attired children in an open and public portion of Canobie Lake Park – regardless of whether the photographs were of the children's backsides, were taken surreptitiously or would be uploaded to a computer -- would not have warranted a reasonable belief that the photographer posed a threat of imminent harm to any patrons, including the children.” Lantagne’s attorney argued that his conviction was “an unwarranted tragedy” because he lost his job and had to register as a sex offender.

Still, there is no denying that in the moment, Lantagne knew what he was doing wasn’t “right,” and that alone may be a glimmer of hope. Canadian researchers recently said that pedophilia happens because of cranial “cross-wiring” in the womb, causing sexual responses for things that are meant to inspire a nurturing, protective response. Rather than the threat of severe criminal penalty, they suggest a strategy aimed at treatment and reintegration. Lantagne might have even sought help under a different societal climate, since he was quick to confess to the park security officer. ..Source.. by Joshua M. Patton



NH court says man's sex charge arrest was illegal

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has reversed a man’s conviction for attempted possession of child sex abuse images, saying police were wrong to arrest him for taking pictures of children at an amusement park water attraction.

Police charged David Lantagne, of Salem, with disorderly conduct in 2011 after a patron of Canobie Lake Park told a security officer Lantagne was taking pictures of children with his cellphone. They used the arrest to get warrants to search Lantagne’s home computer and cellphone.

Based on data in his computer, police charged him with felonies.

The court ruled that photographing children at a public waterpark did not constitute threatening conduct as defined by the disorderly conduct law.

‘‘Photographing properly-attired children in an open and public portion of Canobie Lake Park — regardless of whether the photographs were of the children’s backsides, were taken surreptitiously or would be uploaded to a computer — would not have warranted a reasonable belief that the photographer posed a threat of imminent harm to any patrons, including the children,’’ the court ruled.

The court Tuesday unanimously ruled that the evidence gathered after Lantagne’s illegal arrest should have been barred.

Lantagne’s lawyer said the convictions cost him his job at a Massachusetts printing company and visitation rights with his daughter. Lantagne also had to register as a sex offender.

‘‘It cost him everything,’’ Attorney John Macoul said. ‘‘It’s been a tragedy — an unwarranted tragedy.’’

Lantagne was sentenced earlier this year to two to 15 years in prison, but was allowed to remain free on an appeal bond.

‘‘There’s no statute in New Hampshire that makes it a crime to take pictures of people who are in a public place,’’ Macoul said Tuesday. ‘‘The fact that someone feels uncomfortable is not a basis to arrest someone.’’ ..Source.. by LYNNE TUOHY

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