Former Worcester Day Care Provider Sentenced for Lying in Connection with Child Exploitation Investigation
BOSTON – A Worcester woman was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Worcester for making false statements to federal agents investigating federal child exploitation offenses.
Donna Belanger, 50, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman to one year of probation and a fine of $1,000. In May 2015, Belanger pleaded guilty to making materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements or representations to federal agents.
On Feb. 7, 2014, Belanger was interviewed by federal agents in connection with the arrest of her son, Brian Belanger, 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 Belanger 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 Belanger informed agents that the in-home day care business had closed in June 2012 after allegations arose that her son had sexually assaulted a child attending the day care. Donna Belanger failed to disclose to agents, however, that Brian had sexually assaulted a six-year-old neighbor in 2005. Further investigation would reveal that Donna was well aware of that incident, that she and the mother of the six-year-old 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 about whether Brian had ever had unsupervised contact with the children in the day care before it closed in 2012, Donna Belanger adamantly denied that her son had ever had such access to the children. Donna Belanger 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, federal agents developed additional evidence that Brian had been allowed to have unsupervised contact with the children attending the day care until its closure in 2012.
Donna’s son, Brian Belanger, recently pleaded guilty to five counts of producing child pornography in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Colonel Richard D. McKeon, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; and Worcester Police Chief Gary J. Gemme, made the announcement today. The case was prosecuted by Mark 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/.