Joseph Belanger – Sex Offender Therapist GUILTY possession of Child Porn

A former psychologist for a state mental hospital who said he became interested in child pornography after treating sex offenders pleaded guilty Friday in federal court.

Joseph Belanger, 61, of Jamestown, was charged with receiving and possessing materials involving the sexual exploitation of minors.

Prosecutors said Belanger told them he got interested in child porn while treating sex offenders at a state hospital where he worked for more than 20 years. He often was asked to testify on whether convicted sex offenders were dangerous and should be confined indefinitely for psychiatric treatment.

Belanger’s attorney, Steven Light, did not return messages seeking comment. Earlier, Light said the allegations show that “this type of illness can strike anyone.”

Belanger, who said he is taking medication for depression, looked down as prosecutor Jennifer Klemetsrud Puhl outlined details of the case. U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson had to ask Belanger twice whether Puhl’s allegations were true before Belanger replied, “Yes, your honor.”

Puhl said Belanger downloaded thousands of sexually explicit images of children. She said he preferred to use paid Web sites because they showed “the entire series of photographs.” Images were found on both his home and work computers.

Sentencing was set for December. He faces at least 10 years in prison.

A letter Belanger sent to state officials last year about his compulsion for child pornography led to reviews of cases in Iowa where he appeared as a witness. Officials have said North Dakota cases are unlikely to be affected because of a state law that requires two expert witnesses.

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