LEWISTON — A local man was arrested Wednesday and charged by federal authorities with possession of child pornography. He was later released on personal recognizance.

Marcel L. Bernard, 63, was interviewed a week before his arrest by a local detective and a postal inspector about his response to an undercover operation aimed at targeting patrons of child pornography. Investigators searched his home and found “numerous VHS tapes, four Super 8 reels, printed photos of young children in the nude” along with a letter addressed to Bernard from the undercover operation and a letter he addressed to the operation.

According to an affidavit written by Scott W. Kelley, postal inspector with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Bernard had been a subscriber to the Insider Video Club, “a known commercial distributor of child erotica and child pornography.”

In its sting operation, the USPIS mailed ads from a fictitious company that offered catalogs of child pornography movies.

Around mid-May in 2009, the operatives mailed Bernard a phony catalog to a local address. About a week later, the operatives received a request from Bernard’s address for two “hard-core” child pornography catalogs. A week after that, Bernard was mailed the USPIS catalogs, free previews and an order form.

Three of the seized Super 8 reels contained images of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct, according to federal law, Kelley wrote in his affidavit. The movie appeared to be made in Michigan, prompting a federal charge due to the interstate transportation of the illicit materials, Kelley wrote.

Bernard was charged with a Class C federal felony, which is punishable by not less than 10 years in prison and no more than 20 years, plus a maximum $250,000 fine.

Bernard was previously convicted of sexual abuse of a minor, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Portland.

During his interview, Bernard told investigators that he believed his victim from the earlier conviction plotted his involvement in the current child pornography scheme.

He admitted having bought movies from the video club, but claimed the images consisted only of boys and girls playing in the nude and not involved in sexual conduct.

He showed investigators an envelope that contained an order form for a movie entitled, “Skinny Dipping.” He enclosed a check for $54.95 and addressed the envelope to the undercover operation with his return address.

The description of the movie in the phony catalog indicated the children acting in the movie were engaged in sexual activity.

He also had requested three free previews described as showing children engaged in sexual activity, according to Kelley’s affidavit.

Bernard is employed at the Sun Journal.


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