CAMBRIDGE -- A Bloomington man was sentenced in Henry County Circuit Court Tuesday to five years in prison for child pornography stemming from an incident in 2011 at Orion Middle School when he took pictures of two boys urinating in a boys' restroom.
Benjamin K. Sangraal, 27, a photographer in the school to take student pictures, was found guilty Sept. 28, 2012, of four counts of attempted Class 2 felony child pornography and three counts Class 3 felony child pornography following a bench trial.
Judge Ted Hamer also ordered Mr. Sangraal to pay $2,000 on each of the first four counts and $1,000 on each of the next three counts, plus court costs on Counts 1 and 5. He also was ordered to serve two years mandatory supervised release, to submit DNA samples and to register as a sex offender.
Judge Hamer said that, prior to the sentencing hearing, it didn't appear that Mr. Sangraal showed remorse. He noted Mr. Sangraal told the sex offender evaluator that the pictures taken when the two boys were urinating were art, not pornography.
"It's not art; it's deviant behavior," said the judge.
Mr. Sangraal stood and addressed both the judge and the victims' relatives, saying he knew it was very difficult for people to understand his motivation but he was suffering from "self destructive impulses" that he was unable to seek help for at the time. He said he was a "very different person now."
Mr. Sangraal said he was grieving over the loss of an infant, which Henry County State's Attorney Terry Patton acknowledged. But Mr. Patton said Mr. Sangraal acted on his impulses repeatedly, based on pictures found on his cell phone and text messages referring to taking similar pictures or wanting to expose himself in public places such as gyms, pools and public bathrooms.
Despite expressing regret, Mr. Sangraal said he never attempted to harm anyone.
"Had this been a matter of invasion of privacy I never would have said I did nothing wrong," continued Mr. Sangraal. "My intention was never to create pornography."
The judge said the overwhelming number of sex offender cases result in recommendations for community-based treatment, but this was not the case from Mr. Sangraal's evaluation.
"He is a high risk to re-offend, and it can't be said with certainty he is not a risk to children including his son," Judge Hamer said.
The two boys have not needed any professional or pastoral counseling, it was noted during the hearing.
Mr. Sangraal's attorney asked that Mr. Sangraal be declared indigent and asked for an appellate defender at the close of Tuesday's hearing. The judge granted the request.
Today is Sunday, Dec. 8, the 342nd day of 2013. There are 23 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: For the whole of last week we have been favored with the most delightful Indian summer weather, and mercury ranging from 40 to 65 above zero. The river is entirely clear of ice and looks as mild and soft as summer. 1888 -- 125 years ago: Albert Johnson was appointed a deputy in the circuit clerk's office. 1913 -- 100 years ago: 800 or more tons of earth in six landslides covered 38th Street for a distance of 200 feet near 7th Avenue and destroyed much property. 1938 -- 75 years ago: One of the 350-foot towers, which with a new transmitter will increase the power of WHBF to 1,000 watts day and night, has been completed on a 20-acre tract at 23rd Avenue and 51st Street, Moline. 1963 -- 50 years ago: In cooperation with The Associated Press, The Argus presents to its readers a complete, beginning-to-end account of one of the most tragic and dreadful chapters in American history, the assassination of President Kennedy, available in book form, and now in preparation. The book is entitled "The Torch is Passed." 1988 -- 25 years ago: Deere & Co. stockholders received good news of a boost in their quarterly dividends from 20 to 30 cents per share of common stock. The dividend, made to stockholders of record on Dec. 30, will be payable on Feb. 1, 1989.