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Religious Brother Gets Probation in Porn Case

By Lola Smallwood
Chicago Tribune
March 14, 2000

A Christian Brother convicted of disseminating child pornography over the Internet avoided prison Monday when a Will County judge sentenced him to 4 years of probation and levied a $2,000 fine.

Emotionless for most of the hearing, Robert Brouillette, 58, of Joliet smiled briefly after Will County Judge Amy Bertani-Tomczak announced her ruling.

Earlier, Brouillette had thanked his attorneys, the judge and even Will County prosecutors for treating him fairly.

"I've hurt a lot of people. I hurt the Christian Brothers. I hurt my family, and I hurt my former students," said Brouillette, who had taught at St. Laurence High School in southwest suburban Burbank and had worked in administration at Brother Rice High School in Chicago.

Brouillette said the arrest and the treatment he is undergoing at a residential mental health center in Dettmer, Mich., have changed his life.

"The 23 months of treatment have saved me," he said. "I felt like I was 16 years old when I was arrested, but now I'm at 58, where I belong."

Since his arrest in the spring of 1998, Brouillette has been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, said his attorney, Patrick Reardon.

Bertani-Tomczak said her decision was prompted by Brouillette's clean record prior to his arrest.

"I did not sentence you to the Illinois Department of Corrections because the law mandates I treat you as a first-time offender," she said.

Under the terms of the 48-month probation, Brouillette must continue the treatment program and is prohibited from contact with minors and any form of computer usage, said Bertani-Tomczak.

In December, Brouillette was convicted of 10 counts related to child pornography via computer. Brouillette had been linked to an Internet exchange of materials with a New Hampshire police investigator who posed as a trader in an on-line chat room.

The pornography charges were filed in conjunction with his arrest for indecent solicitation of a child over the Internet.

In that incident, Brouillette thought he had agreed to meet a 12-year-old boy for sex but instead was met by detectives with the Cook County Sheriff's Department's Child Exploitation Unit.

During the investigation of that crime, Brouillette told police he had collected more than 400 images of child pornography through Internet trading sites.

He was indicted under the Safe Neighborhoods Act, which outlaws child pornography depictions by computer. The law subsequently was ruled unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court because it was passed in conjunction with other, unrelated pieces of legislation.

Had the law remained on the books, Brouillette could have faced up to 15 years in prison without the possibility of parole.

His lawyers had sought a new trial, but Bertani-Tomczak instead granted Will County Assistant State's Atty. John McCabe's request to amend the language of the indictment to reflect child pornography statutes that were in place before the law was invalidated.

 
 

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