PORTLAND — A Biddeford man who left the country on a one-way ticket to the Philippines just days after authorities seized child pornography from his home last year was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court to six years in federal prison.
The material that authorities seized from a computer at the home of Paul Roussele, 45, of 29 Amherst St., included “raunchy, disgusting” videos of sadomasochism and bondage with preteen girls and sexual molestation of toddlers, according to the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Chapman.
Chapman told Judge Nancy Torresen that Roussele boarded a flight to the Philippines just five days after a search warrant was executed at his home on May 30, 2012.
Roussele made it only as far as the airport in Manila, where he was stopped and returned to the United States to face a charge of possession of child pornography.
“I wonder if there’s anyone who doesn’t think he was hightailing it because the feds were on to him,” Chapman said at Tuesday’s sentencing hearing. “He certainly wasn’t in any hurry to pay his price to society. He was hoping to beat the rap by fleeing to the Philippines.”
Roussele was charged last June after being taken to Guam, a U.S. territory. He pleaded guilty after being returned to Maine on Oct. 23 as part of a plea agreement, according to court records. He could have faced up to 10 years in prison.
His attorney, Bruce Merrill, argued that Roussele never produced child pornography and intended only to collect it, not share it with others.
Roussele used the computer program Shareaza, which allowed him to download and share pornographic images and videos with individual users. But Merrill argued that after downloading files Roussele made efforts to move them from a computer folder accessible to outsiders to folders only he could access.
The judge said she found Roussele did contribute to the distribution of child pornography but that his contribution was “minimal.”
“The more material that gets out, the more it serves to normalize this kind of behavior,” Torresen said. “I am very concerned about a very dangerous trend that an increasing population treats this as normal.”
Other than his attorney, only Roussele’s fiancee, Anna Sanchez-Warner, appeared in court to support him. She spoke about their seven years together.
“My life with Paul was wonderful before all this happened,” Sanchez-Warner said. “I will be on his side no matter what. I will continue to support Paul.”
Roussele also addressed the court, saying he now has a much better understanding of how his behavior added to the sexual exploitation of children.
“I want to say how sincerely sorry I am for my conduct, especially to the victims,” he said.
Dressed in a tan prison uniform and a close-cropped crew cut, Roussele turned several times during the proceeding to look at his fiancee before being handcuffed and led from the courtroom by federal marshals.
Torresen also ordered Roussele to register as a sex offender, pay $5,250 restitution to one of the victims and serve five years of supervised release following his prison sentence.
Staff Writer Scott Dolan can be contacted at: 791-6304 or at: