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December 27, 2013

Lawyer: Wrongful conviction devastated Salem man

Lantagne sentenced to 2 to 15 years

A child pornography conviction cost David Lantagne his job and parental visitation rights, but he will continue to hold on to his freedom, his attorney said.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has overturned the Salem, N.H., man’s conviction after he was first arrested in July 2011 for using his cellphone to photograph young girls in bathing suits at Canobie Lake Park in Salem.

The high court unanimously ruled that Salem police had no right to arrest Lantagne because photographing children at the amusement park did not constitute a public threat.

The arrest later led to his conviction on child pornography charges and a 2- to 15-year New Hampshire State Prison sentence.

“We are very happy with the decision that found the entire case was handled improperly,” John Macoul, Lantagne’s attorney, said yesterday. “It was a very unfortunate situation.”

Lantagne, 48, was initially charged with disorderly conduct and violation of privacy. A woman complained to a park security employee that Lantagne was taking photos of her young daughter while she played in the water.

Lantagne brought his own young daughter to the park that day, and lost his visitation rights when convicted, Macoul said.

When confronted by security, Lantagne admitted having a “problem” and being attracted to young girls. Lantagne also said he previously photographed girls at The Mall at Rockingham Park.

The charges against Lantagne were later upgraded when Salem police seized his home computer and found images of nude young girls.

Lantagne was convicted in Rockingham Superior Court in October 2012 on three counts of attempted possession of sexual images.

Lantagne was then sentenced to state prison in January but remained free pending appeal of his conviction. He sought sex offender treatment immediately after his arrest, according to Rockingham County Attorney James Reams.

In his appeal, Lantagne claimed he was arrested without cause, violating the state and U.S. constitutions.

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