August 23, 2013

Wayne, Farmington special ed teacher charged with sex assaults

Patrik Ian Arsenault, 27, of Norridgewock, allegedly assaulted 2 Clinton boys in Belgrade this summer; had worked at Wayne Elementary, was to start soon at W.G. Mallett Elementary School in Farmington

By Kaitlin Schroeder kschroeder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

and Betty Adams badams@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

A man who was a special education teacher in Wayne and recently hired as one in Farmington is facing charges that he sexually assaulted and exploited two boys this summer.

Patrik Ian Arsenault, who was arrested late Wednesday, told Homeland Security investigators that he assaulted the boys, ages 6 and 7, in Belgrade, and had traded child pornography via email for a year, according to court documents. The boys live in Clinton, according to court records.

Arsenault, 27, of Norridgewock, whose name is sometimes spelled Patrick, faces two charges of gross sexual assault and two charges of sexual exploitation of a minor. All four charges are class A offenses and carry maximum prison terms of 30 years each.

He is also facing a federal charge of sexual exploitation of a minor, which carriers a minimum penalty of 15 years in prison and a maximum penalty of 30 years, according to court documents.

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

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

Arsenault signed a contract with the school May 20, with a start date of Aug. 26 — Monday. The first day of school is Wednesday.

Ward said the school has filed an order banning Arsenault from all the property of the school district, Regional School Unit 9.

"He will not work at RSU 9, but we have to follow certain procedure," Ward said. The school is working with its attorneys at the Drummond Woodsum law firm in Portland to decide the next steps.

Dan Rose, an attorney with Drummond Woodsum, refused a request this afternoon for Arsenault's resume and other work-related documents, saying they are confidential personnel records. Rose did not immediately respond to a Maine Freedom of Access Act request for the documents sent via email late this afternoon.

Before Wayne Elementary, Arsenault worked for Woodfords Family Services in Westbrook as a behavioral health professional, according to his Facebook page, though it doesn't say for how long.

Samantha Warren, spokeswoman for the Department of Education, said in an email that Arsenault does not hold valid teaching certification.

His most recent one-year certification expired July 1 and he has not applied for renewal. She said he does have an education technician authorization, which is valid through Feb. 1.

She said because of the allegations, Arsenault is flagged in the system so if he reapplies, the allegations will show.

She said Arsenault's certification will be automatically revoked by statute if the department gets a certified copy of a conviction for physical or sexual abuse or exploitation of a child within the previous five years.

She said credentials are otherwise only revoked as part of a court order as part of a conviction or settlement, or if the holder surrenders their credentials.

Maine State Police Detective Chris Tupper filed an affidavit saying he assisted agents from Homeland Security and Investigation in searching for child pornography at Arsenault's home on Wednesday.

"During the execution of the search warrant, Patrik confessed to possession of child porn along with sexually assaulting two young boys," Tupper wrote.

Tupper said a video on Arsenault's computer showed him sexually assaulting a child.

Arsenault identified the child in the video to police and talked about sexually assaulting two boys, ages 6 and 7, in July in Belgrade, Tupper said.

Arsenault also faces a federal charge of sexual exploitation of a minor based on videos and at least one photo found of the sexual assaults.

Arsenault told investigators "that for a year he had been trading child pornography via email," according to Special Agent Anthony Castellanos of Homeland Security Investigations in an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Maine.

Castellanos said Arsenault initially denied molesting a child, but later said he had molested two children and had a video recording and at least one picture of some encounters in June or July.

Investigators saw two videos on the computer hard drive of Arsenault sexually assaulting one child and a photo of him touching the genitals of another, Castellanos wrote.

The complaint says the Arsenault "knowingly employed, used, persuaded, enticed and coerced a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of that conduct."

It also said the materials used to make the recordings "had been mailed, shipped, and transported in interstate and foreign commerce."

Tupper said Arsenault was arrested at his home without incident and taken to the Kennebec County jail at 12:30 a.m. Thursday.

Arsenault made an initial appearance today via video before Judge Beth Dobson in Augusta District Court.

Arsenault stood with his hands folded in front of him and kept his down, with his gaze at the floor, during the hearing.

Attorney Walter McKee is representing Arsenault. His associate, Matthew Morgan, was with Arsenault in the jail.

"This is a new case for us," Morgan told the judge. "We were retained last night."

Two people who identified themselves as members of Arsenault's family watched the hearing from the courtroom, but did not respond when asked about either Arsenault or the case.

Dobson set bail today as proposed by the state:

• $200,000 worth of property or $100,000 cash;

• no contact with the victims or their parents, all of whom live in Clinton;

• no contact with any child under 16;

• no possession of use of any Internet-capable device for reading, viewing or storage;

• no contact with any private or public elementary or secondary school or safe zones.

Assistant District Attorney Joelle Pratt said she and the defense attorney agreed that Arsenault's bail could be readdressed via a motion.

McKee later said in an email, "Everything is very preliminary right now. By this time next week we will have a lot more information and will be in a position to address a whole host of issues in the case, including reducing the bail considerably."

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252
kschroeder@mainetoday.com

Betty Adams — 621-5631
badams@mainetoday.com

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