Former teacher's arrest on child porn charges raise questions about criminal record annulments, county attorney says
PORTSMOUTH - When a former music teacher applied for a new teaching job after being acquitted in 2009 of sexually assaulting a former student, it put Strafford County Attorney Thomas Velardi in a quandary. What information could he share with inquiring school officials about a man who officially had no criminal record?
"As a public safety officer, I thought there was more to him than met the eye," said Velardi, who forwarded Dover police reports about the teacher's past to Massachusetts school officials over the summer. "The public had a right to know."
The former teacher, Daryl Robertson, 38, reappeared on the radar of authorities again late last week after Greenland police brought charges of possession of child sexual abuse images against him. Robertson, of 565 River Road in Eliot, Maine, is currently being held on $50,000 cash bail following his arraignment Monday in 10th Circuit Court in Portsmouth.
Police say Robertson had kept computer discs containing images of young boys engaged in sexual acts at his parent's home on Post Road in Greenland. He is charged with seven counts of possession of child sexual abuse images.
Velardi, whose office prosecuted Robertson twice nearly four years ago, said Robertson's latest arrest highlights an ongoing debate about whether annulments prior to a law change in June 2011 still enjoy protection of nondisclosure under the old law.
"I'm not sure what I can say about it," Velardi said, when reached by phone Monday.
Andrew Schulman, president of the New Hampshire Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said recent changes in the law have not provided any definitive answer about what can and cannot be shared.
If a new law brought harsher penalties for a crime, the earlier penalty would still apply to those already sentenced, Schulman said. In the case of annulments, the matter is less clear.
"The question is if you annulled something under the old law, would anything be a vested right?" Schulman said. "I really don't know the answer to that. If I had to guess, I would say no."
Federal charges expected
During Robertson's arraignment Monday, defense lawyer Alan Cronheim told Judge Sawako Gardner that his client had no criminal record, and posed no threat to public safety. Cronheim represented Robertson in the earlier misdemeanor sex assault case.
Gardner set Robertson's bail at $50,000 cash. Federal charges are also expected to be filed against Robertson after U.S. postal inspectors executed a search warrant at his home last month in Eliot, Maine, according to Greenland Detective David Kurkul. He expects the federal case to bring "a substantial amount of charges."
The images found in Greenland, according to court complaints, depict young boys engaged in sexual conduct. Police searched the home of Robertson's parents in Greenland on Jan. 31 with U.S. Postal Inspection Special Agent Scott Kelley, who obtained a federal search warrant for the residence.
Velardi said he may have been barred from sharing records about Robertson's court case, but the Dover police reports were still public record - not covered under state law.
When he opposed Robertson getting an annulment, he expressed concerns about the 38-year-old seeking another job teaching or having contact with children. Robertson, a former St. Thomas of Aquinas teacher, was found not guilty of misdemeanor charges that he groped the genitals of a former student and hugged him.
"I think that jury, respectfully, made a mistake," Velardi said.
Prosecutors had alleged in that case Robertson groped the genitals of a male student in November 2007 while swimming. Robertson claimed at trial the contact was not intended as sexual, according to Velardi.
"I'm shocked and saddened by these latest charges," Velardi said. "We'll see what happens."