A former teacher in Wayne pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges involving sexual exploitation of young boys.

Patrik Ian Arsenault, 27, of Norridgewock, faces related state charges as well.

Arsenault worked as a special eduction teacher for two years at the Wayne Regional Autism Program in Readfield-based Regional School Unit 38 before he resigned in June 2013. The program was at Wayne Elementary School.

Documents filed in federal and state court indicate the children assaulted were not those in his classes, but family friends.

According to the prosecution’s version of the events, the investigation into Arsenault began when federal Homeland Security personnel were told someone “had uploaded images of child pornography to an image-sharing website located outside the United States.”

That Internet address was traced to Arsenault’s Norridgewock residence and his former employer.

When agents executed a warrant at his home on Aug. 21, 2013, “the defendant stated that he had been trading child pornography via email for approximately a year,” according to the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew McCormack.

McCormack says Arsenault initially denied sexually abusing children but then admitted to abusing two young boys ages 6 and 7, identified in federal court documents as “Male Minors A and B.”

“He stated he had video recorded and photographed some of these encounters in June or July 2013 while he was living in Belgrade,” McCormack wrote. Arsenault also told investigators he sent some of those images and videos via email to people out of state in exchange for similar images from them.

McCormack said investigators examining computers and related material seized from Arsenault found images of Arsenault abusing a third boy.

All the victims are “prepubescent males,” McCormack noted.

That sexual abuse allegedly occurred July 24, 2013, in Norridgewock and images of that, too, were sent out of state, according to McCormack.

In addition to the photos and videos taken by Arsenault, “law enforcement also discovered on the hard drive more than 7,500 images and more than 250 videos depicting children in different sexual poses and children engaged in sexual acts with other children and/or adults.”

On May 28, after U.S. District Court Chief Judge John A. Woodcock Jr. found that Arsenault was competent to proceed, Arsenault’s attorney, Donald Brown, said Arsenault intended to plead guilty rather than go to trial.

On Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Bangor, Arsenault pleaded guilty to three counts of production of child pornography and one count each of transportation, receipt and possession of child pornography. He also agreed to forfeit the computers and other electronic devices, including phones, memory sticks and memory cards and cameras used in the commission of the offenses.

Arsenault has been in custody since his arrest last summer, and a sentencing hearing will be set once a presentencing report is submitted.

Arsenault was supposed to start work as a special education teacher this past school year in Farmington, but never taught in the pre-kindergarten-through-third-grade building, Mt. Blue School District Superintendent Tom Ward said previously.

In state court, Arsenault faces two counts each of gross sexual assault and sexual exploitation of a minor. All four charges are class A offenses and carry maximum prison terms of 30 years each.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

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Twitter: @betadams