Former Worcester Day Care Provider Pleads Guilty to Lying in Connection to Investigation into Son’s Contact with Children in her Care
BOSTON – A Worcester woman pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court in Worcester to making false statements to federal agents investigating federal child exploitation offenses.
Donna Bellanger, 49, pleaded guilty to making materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements or representations to federal agents.
On Feb. 7, 2014, Bellanger was interviewed by federal agents in connection with the arrest of her son, Brian Bellanger, on federal charges that he had, through online communications, enticed a minor to produce child pornography. Specifically, during the course of the execution of a federal search warrant, which uncovered evidence of her son’s crimes, federal agents interviewed Donna Bellanger about her knowledge of her son’s prior sexual assaults against children and whether her son had been allowed unsupervised contact with the children attending her in-home day care center.
In response to questions concerning prior allegations of sexual assault, Donna Bellanger truthfully informed agents that the in-home day care business had closed in June 2012 after allegations had arisen that her son had sexually assaulted a child attending the day care. Donna Bellanger failed to disclose to agents, however, that Brian had sexually assaulted a six-year-old neighbor in 2005. Further investigation revealed that Donna was well aware of that incident, that she and the mother of the child had spoken about the incident, and that the two had agreed that the matter would not be reported to police if Donna secured mental health counselling for her son.
In response to questioning, during two separate interviews, about whether Brian ever had unsupervised contact with the children in the day care before it closed in 2012, Donna Bellanger adamantly denied that her son ever had unsupervised access to the children. Donna Bellanger ultimately admitted in a third interview that the children would sometimes be allowed to play video games with Brian in his bedroom without supervision.
In interviews of former day care employees and acquaintances, agents developed evidence that Brian had been allowed to have unsupervised contact with the children attending the day care up and until its closure in 2012.
The charging statute provides a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release and fine of $250,000. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Colonel Timothy P. Alben, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; and Chief Gary J. Gemme of the Worcester Police Department, made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark J. Grady of Ortiz’s Worcester Branch Office.
The case is brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In 2006, the Department of Justice created Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov/.