Montreal

Quebec man sentenced in U.S. child porn case

A Quebec man was sentenced to 37 months in prison after pleading guilty to carrying child pornography across the Canada-U.S. border on his computer more than three years ago.

Sébastien Boucher gets more than 3 years behind bars

A Quebec man was sentenced to 37 months in prison after pleading guilty to carrying child pornography across the Canada-U.S. border on his computer more than three years ago.

Sébastien Boucher, 33, of Sherbrooke, was also put on probation for five years.

U.S. Federal Court judge Willam Sessions told Boucher his crime was extraordinarily serious and the images were some of the most vile the court had ever seen.

Boucher was arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials on Dec. 17, 2006, after they searched his laptop at the crossing between Stanstead, Que., and Derby Line, Vt.

Officials found a handful of incriminating files but were unable to search one particular drive on the computer.

A forensics expert told the court in Burlington, Vt., that it was not possible to crack the code that Boucher, a Canadian citizen with legal residency in the United States, had installed to protect his computer files.

Even government experts at the Secret Service in Washington, D.C., could not discover the password to access the files on the computer's drive Z after using a bank of computers for two years, he said.

Boucher's files were protected by Pretty Good Privacy, a form of encryption software used by intelligence agencies around the world. It is also widely available online.

It was only after Boucher reached a plea agreement with officials in September that he turned over the password, on the condition that what was found couldn’t be used against him in court.

In the password-protected drive Z, in a file several layers down, were 2,000 stills of child pornography, the expert said. Officials also found 118 videos of child pornography.

Boucher's laptop also contained more than 5,000 pornographic images involving adults.

Supported by family and friends

Boucher's parents and other relatives and friends attended Friday’s hearing at the Federal District Courthouse in Burlington.

More than a dozen of Boucher's friends and relatives had written to the sentencing judge, urging him to allow Boucher to return to Canada, where he can have the support of his family and the French-language psychotherapy that he needs to deal with his problems.

The judge agreed to that request on Friday.

Boucher's case briefly became a first in the United States when he refused to reveal the password, arguing it would violate his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. He won the first round in the courts, but a year ago the judge ordered him to turn over the password.

That's when Boucher decided to plead guilty and co-operate with authorities.

Boucher has been living in Vermont for three years and has not been allowed access to a computer or the internet.

His partner and children are still living in Sherbrooke.

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