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 Monday, March 10, the 69th day of 2014. There are 296 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: Numerous counterfeiters are around, taking advantage of the influx of currency to pass their worthless trash. 1889 -- 125 years ago: J.J. Reimers, secretary and treasurer of the Rock Island Lumber and Manufacturing Co., on behalf of that firm, contributed $500 toward construction of a new Methodist church. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Samuel Ryerson, county recorder, was re-elected president of the 19th District of Knights of Pythias. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Three condemnation suits have been filed by the city of Rock Island to acquire property needed for an approach to the Rock Island-Davenport bridge, which has been under construction since March 6. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Plans for an eight-story Sheraton Inn in downtown Rock Island were announced today at a luncheon meeting at the Gay Nineties sponsored by the Rock Island Chamber of Commerce. Cost of the structure is estimated at $2.5 million. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Representatives of the Hardee's Golf Classic and tournament sponsor Hardee's Food Systems may meet next week with PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman to discuss a possible change in the tournament dates.