FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
MAINE [Hon. John A. Woodcock, Jr., U.S. District Judge]
Jonathan G. Mermin and Preti, Flaherty, Beliveau &
Pachios, LLP for appellant.
Margaret D. McGaughey, Assistant United States Attorney,
Appellate Chief, and Thomas E. Delahanty II, United States
Attorney, on brief, for appellee.
Lynch, Thompson, and Barron, Circuit Judges.
THOMPSON, Circuit Judge
Patrik Ian Arsenault, a school aide for special-needs
students, pled guilty to sexually exploiting three minors, as
well as transporting, receiving, and possessing child
pornography. In his appeal, Arsenault challenges the
780-month (or 65-year) sentence given to him as unreasonable.
After careful consideration, we find Arsenault's
arguments without merit and, accordingly, affirm the
sentencing determination of the court below.
Investigation and Underlying Offense
summer of 2013, law enforcement agents began an investigation
of Arsenault after confirming child pornography had been
uploaded to an image-sharing website from his
home. Federal agents then executed a search
warrant at Arsenault's residence in Norridgewock, Maine
where they sought computer related items in furtherance of
the ongoing investigation. After the agents told Arsenault
that he was not under arrest and not obligated to answer
questions, he chose to talk anyway. Eventually, Arsenault
made several rather damning admissions that he had been
trading child pornography over the Internet for about a year,
had sexually abused two minors, had video recorded and
photographed some of his encounters with the children, and
had stored images and videos of his sexual acts with them on
an external hard drive in his home. At the conclusion of the
search, Arsenault was arrested and charged with gross sexual
assault in state court and, the following day, was charged by
way of complaint in federal district court.
subsequent forensic review of Arsenault's hard drive
revealed sexually explicit images of Arsenault with a third
minor and also uncovered more than 7, 500 images and more
than 250 videos depicting prepubescent male children engaged
in sexual acts with other children and/or adults. It was also
learned that at least two of Arsenault's three victims
were special-needs children under the age of twelve, whom
Arsenault had been introduced to through his job as an aide
for autistic children. On varying occasions, these two
victims had been entrusted into Arsenault's overnight
care, during which time he drugged and sexually abused them.
was eventually indicted for the sexual exploitation of the
three minors, as well as the transportation, receipt, and
possession of child pornography. On July 8, 2014, Arsenault
pled guilty to all six counts of the indictment: the sexual
exploitation of the three minors in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§§ 2251(a) and 2251(e) (Counts I-III); and the
transportation, receipt, and possession of child pornography
in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2252A(a)(1),
2252A(a)(2), 2252A(a)(5)(B) and 2256(8)(A) (Counts IV-VI).
Probation filed a presentence investigation report
("PSI") on August 26, 2014. Arsenault failed to
file any written objections to that report.
his sentencing hearing, Arsenault again voiced no objections
to the PSI, except for a request that the PSI clarify that
the three minor victims were not actually his students. Nor
did he raise any legal challenges to the recommended
Sentencing Guidelines (the "Guidelines")
enhancements. The judge proceeded with his sentencing task.
After hearing from the families of the victims and noting
that he had reviewed the PSI, victim-impact statements, and
support letters submitted on Arsenault's behalf, the
judge calculated the appropriate Guidelines range. Finding a
total offense level -- after all enhancements had been
tallied (more on these enhancements later) -- of 43 and a
criminal history category of I, the judge found the
applicable Guidelines range to be life imprisonment.
the life sentence recommended by the Guidelines was higher
than the statutorily authorized maximum sentences. Under the
relevant statutes, the maximum statutory sentence for Counts
I-III was 30 years each, the maximum statutory sentence for
Counts IV and V was 20 years each, and the maximum statutory
sentence for Count VI was 10 years. The judge therefore found
the applicable range to be the statutory maximum of 1, 680
months, or 140 years. See U.S. Sentencing Guidelines
Manual § 5G1.1 (U.S. Sentencing Comm'n 2015). After
explaining his calculations, the judge again specifically
asked Arsenault if he had any objections to these findings
and calculations. Counsel for Arsenault responded that he had
imposing a sentence, the judge went on to discuss his
sentencing rationale in detail. He explicitly stated that he
had taken into consideration "each of the factors set
forth in 18 U.S.C. Section 3553(a), including the obligation
to impose a sentence that is sufficient, but no greater than
necessary to achieve the purposes of the law" -- a
concept known as the parsimony principle. The judge explained
that while he had considered "each statutory factor,
" he had concentrated on the "history and
characteristics of the defendant, the nature and
circumstances of the offense, and the need to protect the
public from future crimes of the defendant." After
detailing his reasoning, the judge imposed a below-Guidelines
sentence of 780 months, or 65 years. Arsenault timely
review for the reasonableness of a sentence is bifurcated,
requiring us to ensure that the sentence is both procedurally
and substantively reasonable. See United States v.
Mendez, 802 F.3d 93, 97 (1st Cir. 2015). We ordinarily
review both procedural and substantive reasonableness under a
deferential abuse-of-discretion standard. United States
v. Maisonet-Gonzalez, 785 F.3d 757, 762 (1st Cir. 2015),
cert. denied sub nom. Maisonet v. United States, 136
S.Ct. 263 (2015). However, when assessing procedural
reasonableness, this Court engages in a multifaceted
abuse-of-discretion standard whereby "we afford de novo
review to the sentencing court's interpretation and
application of the sentencing guidelines, assay the
court's factfinding for clear error, and evaluate its
judgment calls for abuse of discretion." United
States v. Ruiz-Huertas, 792 F.3d 223, 226 (1st. Cir.
2015). If a party fails to preserve claims of error in the
court below, these standards of review may be altered.
Id. In such instances, review is for plain error.
appears to raise three arguments on appeal: (1) that the
judge erred in applying numerous enhancements in his
Guidelines calculation; (2) that the judge failed to
adequately consider or explain how the 65-year sentence
imposed did not violate the parsimony principle; ...