Hearing on child pornography case begins

7 mins read

FARMINGTON – A former University of Maine at Farmington student convicted in Kennebec County District Court of indecent conduct in December 2008 was back in court Tuesday seeking to suppress evidence and statements obtained by campus police in the case in which he is accused of possessing pornographic images of children.

Keith R. Nadeau, 19, of Biddeford, pleaded guilty to indecent conduct, a Class E misdemeanor, after he admitted to exposing himself to a 13-year-old boy at a summer dance camp in Winthrop where he was an instructor. Sentencing in that case was deferred until the charge of possessing sexually explicit material of a minor, a Class C felony, could be heard in Franklin County Superior Court.

Keith R. Nadeau

Nadeau was a student at UMF in December 2007 when, according to campus police, he showed another student material, involving a child younger than 12, which reportedly was pornographic in nature. He was charged with possessing sexually explicit material of a minor, a Class C felony. Nadeau was released on an unsecured $3,000 bail bond, which included a provision that he have no contact, either direct or indirect, with children under the age of 17.

In the months following the Dec. 17 arrest, Nadeau’s bail was amended to have supervised incidental contact with children. This was to allow Nadeau to help out at a children’s summer dance camp. While the camp was in session, a 13-year-old Augusta boy said that Nadeau asked him to come into the locker room and allegedly masturbated in front of him. The boy then said he fled the room and told his parents. His mother then alerted the Winthrop Police Department.

After interviewing the child, parents and suspect, Nadeau was placed under arrest. Franklin County Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy ordered his bail revoked on the pornography charge and he has remained at the Franklin County Jail ever since.

In a hearing held Tuesday, Nadeau’s attorney Michael Cunniff sought to have evidence and statements obtained by campus police thrown out. Cunniff argued that Nadeau believed he was in custody when he was questioned in his dorm room, wasn’t advised of his rights and had his computer and a flash drive, which reportedly had the pornographic photographs stored on it, taken without a search warrant or Nadeau’s consent.

UMF’s part-time Department of Public Safety Officer John Irving testified that after he received a complaint from a student who said Nadeau showed him child pornography on his computer, he and Officer Dean Hart went to Nadeau’s dorm room on Dec. 5 to interview him. 

Assistant District Attorney Andrew Robinson played a recording of the interview in which the officers can be heard telling Nadeau “We understand you’re in possession of child pornography.” At first Nadeau denies it, but then says it was something he’s had for a long time and that it involved older teens. 

Nadeau can be heard crying and pleading with the officers that he doesn’t want to go to jail. Officer Hart asks Nadeau to get the flash drive, then says, “We have to turn it over to the District Attorney’s Office.” Nadeau, crying hard now utters, “Oh, God.” Hart then advises Nadeau to call his parents and that they will need a written statement from Nadeau.

“You’re not under arrest,” Hart said. “Not in custody, but anything you say may be used against you in court.”

Officer Irving then adds, “If you do cooperate with us it may be helpful for you.” Hart says, “Type your statement on your computer.”

Nadeau, crying, said, “I would never hurt any child. I want to be a teacher to help children.”  One of the officers can be heard saying, “You know what’s inside your heart.” Nadeau types and prints out a short statement and signs it after Hart asks him to do so.

“I don’t know what to do,” Nadeau said. Hart advises again for him to call his parents. Nadeau hands the flash drive over to Irving. Hart then says they need to take his computer too. Nadeau mentions he has school work to do and needs his computer. He asks when he can get it back. The officers indicate they will get his computer back to him as soon as possible.

“Did Mr. Nadeau give his consent to search his computer? Did he give you consent to seize his computer?” Cunniff asked Officer Irving. 

Irving maintained Nadeau invited them into his dorm room, voluntarily gave them his flash drive,  computer and wrote his confession. Cunniff also argued that the officers should have advised Nadeau of his rights.

“He (Hart) told Mr. Nadeau he had to give a written statement. He pressed Mr. Nadeau. He was trying to crack Mr. Nadeau,” Cunniff said. “Didn’t you have time to get a search warrant?”

“Correct,” Irving answered. Later, under questioning, Irving said they consulted with UMF Public Safety Director Ted Blais who advised them to try and voluntarily get Nadeau’s computer.

“Did you feel you were forcing Mr. Nadeau in any way?” asked Robinson.

“No,” Irving said. “We were just asking him about the situation.”

“Was Mr. Nadeau in custody?” Robinson asked Irving, to which he replied, “no.”

“Then there’s no reason for a Miranda card is there,” Robinson redundantly said. 

The hearing was continued to 10 a.m. Feb. 17,  in which witnesses expected to testify include Officer Hart and investigators with the state’s Computer Crimes Task Force.

“Consent is the ultimate question here,” Justice Murphy noted.  

In sentencing for the indecent conduct charge, Kennebec County District Attorney Evert Fowle said that the plea agreement includes a promise from his office to not seek more than a 90-day jail sentence. Nadeau, between the time spent in both county jails, has been in custody longer than that. 

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