Former teacher pleads guilty to possession of child porn
A Milford man faces up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court in Worcester to one felony count of possession of child pornography.
Brian Rossi, 37, a former gym teacher at Sarah Gibbons Middle School in Westborough, was charged in February after federal agents said they found pornographic images of children at his home.
Rossi, who was taken into federal custody until sentencing in February, also faces a fine of up to $250,000.
Appearing before U.S. District Court Judge Dennis F. Saylor IV, Rossi admitted he had downloaded several pornographic images of boys from a Web site in Romania. Saylor set sentencing for Feb. 26, and Rossi will be held at a federal detention center until then.
Rossi had worked as a gym teacher and girls basketball coach at Gibbons Middle School since 2001. He resigned shortly after his arrest.
Rossi's lawyer, Elliot Weinstein, argued for his client's release back to his parents in Natick, with whom he had been staying under home confinement since his arraignment in February. Weinstein said Rossi had never acted on his urges, and that he did not pose a threat to society.
"He has never done anything with an underage person," Weinstein said. "There is no allegation of that."
Possessing pornographic images of children, Weinstein added, is a different level of crime than a pedophilic act against a child.
"That's a different category of offense and offender," he said. "It's not Mr. Rossi."
Weinstein also said that detention would interrupt Rossi's continued treatment and rehabilitation. Since undergoing a psychiatric evaluation at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester following his arrest, Rossi has been taking medication for anxiety and depression. Weinstein said his client had also been attending group sessions with doctors and treatment specialists.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Karin M. Bell responded that in the case of child pornography, "No matter what the degree ... it's considered a violent offense."
Bell had earlier cited federal agents' findings that Rossi had downloaded more than 100 videos of child pornography and had 40 pages of explicit images at his home. She described in graphic detail some of those images seized by agents and said some of the images contained victims whose identities were known to federal investigators.
She added that Rossi's circumstances are no different from some other offenders, which would mean he falls short of having "exceptional" circumstances that would permit his release, according to a federal statute governing child pornography cases.
Explaining his decision, Saylor also pointed out that statute orders mandatory detention, and that Rossi's situation did not fulfill the "exceptional" circumstances provision.
"I consider this a close call," he said. "I am required to follow the statute as written."
After Saylor concluded his explanation, Rossi was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.
A court clerk in Saylor's office afterward said Rossi would likely be taken to the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, R.I., but added he couldn't confirm if that would be the destination.
MetroWest Daily News