Catholic Brother Guilty of Child Porn

By William Presecky
Chicago Tribune
December 4, 1999

A member of a Roman Catholic religious order who was indicted in Will County last year on child pornography charges was found guilty Friday.

Robert Brouillette, 57, who lived at a Joliet residence belonging to the religious order, will be sentenced next month.

Brouillette was arrested in August 1998 after a related investigation by Cook County sheriff's police.

Charges of indecent solicitation of a child are pending against Brouillette in the Maywood branch of Cook County Circuit Court. He was arrested in April 1998 at a prearranged meeting at a restaurant in southwest suburban Burbank.

Brouillette allegedly believed he would be making contact with a 12-year-old boy he met via the Internet and with whom police said he had initiated graphic sexual discussions.

Instead, police said, he met an undercover investigator who arrested him.

He was free on $25,000 bond when he was arrested in the Will County case.

The conviction Friday in Will County also stems from Brouillette's activity on the Internet. Authorities say he exchanged child pornography with a New Hampshire police officer posing as a trader in an on-line chat room.

In court Friday, Brouillette appeared nervous but showed no emotion as Will County Judge Amy Bertani-Tomczak found him guilty of all charges. He said nothing and, through his attorneys, declined to comment.

Conviction on a child pornography charge carries a mandatory prison sentence of 4 to 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000, said Will County Assistant State's Atty. John McCabe, who prosecuted Brouillette.

Bertani-Tomczak set sentencing for Jan. 29.

Brouillette, who identified himself at the start of his bench trial as a teacher with two master's degrees, was working in an administrative post in an office adjacent to Brother Rice High School at the time of his arrest.

While directing police on a search of his room in Joliet, where he shared a home with three other brothers, including the head of the order's western province, Brouillette reportedly told investigators he had collected more than 400 computer images of child pornography during a trading period that began in 1995.

Defense attorneys Patrick Reardon and Mark Solock of Chicago argued that McCabe had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the Internet dissemination of child pornography that allegedly occurred via Brouillette's home computer could be traced to him directly.

The one witness called by the attorneys on Friday, a computer graphics and design expert, demonstrated that with computer technology, the sexually explicit images taken from Brouillette's room by police could have been manufactured or manipulated to make it impossible to discern whether they depict real children.

Solock and Reardon said that Illinois' child pornography law is aimed at protecting real children. Images of children who haven't been shown to be anything other than computer creations are not covered by the law, they said.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.