HARTFORD - A former police captain was sentenced to 10 years in prison Friday for amassing what authorities said was one of the largest and most disturbing child pornography collections they've ever seen in Connecticut, one that included images of infants and toddlers.
Former Granby Capt. David Bourque, 51, told a federal judge in Hartford that he had lost his way during the several months he was downloading and sharing child pornography images. He denied physically abusing any children.
"I spiraled out of control for six months," Bourque told Judge Alvin Thompson. "The fact that I viewed child pornography is beyond comprehension."
Bourque was arrested in April after authorities said they found nearly 22,300 images and more than 4,000 videos of child pornography on his computers, mostly involving prepubescent boys. He pleaded guilty to a single count of receipt and distribution of child pornography last July.
Bourque called child pornography a "horrible and illegal activity" and apologized to the children in the images as well as his family. But he asked Thompson for leniency.
"I am not a predator," said Bourque, who worked for Suffield police for years before his stint in Granby.
Federal prosecutor Raymond Miller said authorities recovered from Bourque's computers chats he had with others interested in child porn. In one chat, Bourque told someone that he was interested in boys under 14 and that he had "a couple" of real bondage, rape and torture videos, Miller said.
"The chats tell the story," Miller told the judge. "It shows his intents. It shows his desires."
Miller said child pornography repeatedly harms its victims.
"Watching these videos hurts the children in them. They're victimized again and again and again," Miller said.
Some victims of the images wrote letters to Thompson saying how their lives have been affected. The contents of those letters weren't disclosed.
Bourque's lawyer, Richard Brown, spoke for about two and a half hours, saying there were factors that led his client to watch child porn but that didn't excuse the crimes. He also said there was no way Bourque could have viewed all the child porn images on his computers because there were too many.
Brown said Bourque had developed post-traumatic stress disorder after years of responding to fatal car accidents as a member and leader of a regional accident reconstruction team in north-central Connecticut. Brown said Bourque responded to 150 to 200 fatal car accidents during his career. He also said his client was sexually abused as a child.
Brown said post-traumatic stress disorder "is a real condition and it affects people. In my opinion, it can skew their judgment."
Bourque wore a dark gray suit and cried at times during the hearing. Nearly 20 of his relatives and friends attended.
Bourque's viewing of child porn was out of character for a man who dedicated his life to public service and helping people, his supporters said.
"My sister and I still consider him the best father anyone could ever had," said his daughter, Caitlin Bourque, 24.
She said she was stunned when she learned about the charges, but she said people shouldn't forget all the good her father has done in his life including protecting the community and once saving a paraplegic from drowning in Maine. She said she has been devastated watching her mother and her father's friends abandon him.
David Bourque resigned from the Granby police department last year. Brown said Bourque accepted responsibility for his actions and sought treatment for mental health problems.
Bourque tried to avoid detection by installing sophisticated software on his computer, authorities said. And he used information gained as a police officer to assess the ability of other law enforcement officers to detect his criminal activity, prosecutors said.
Bourque at one point was investigating a child pornography case while collecting child porn on his time off, authorities said.
Prosecutors said in court documents that Bourque showed a "callous disregard" for the harm suffered by the children, telling his trading partners to "enjoy" themselves or "have fun" while viewing his collection.