BRATTLEBORO -- A former Saxtons River man who pleaded guilty in June 2013 to producing child pornography accepted another plea agreement to related charges on March 24.
On Monday, Nelson, 49, pleaded guilty to one count of transporting a a child under the age of 18 across a state line with the intent of engaging in unlawful sexual activity and one count of crossing a state line with a child under the age of 12 with the intent of engaging in unlawful sexual activity.
If a federal judge accepts Brant Nelson's most recent plea deal, he will spend at least the next 30 years in a jail. The minimum sentence on the first count is 10 years, with a maximum of life in jail and the minimum on the second count is 30 years, also with a maximum of life. If he is ever released, he will have to spend at least five years on supervised release, which could be extended to lifetime parole.
Nelson has been incarcerated since Jan. 20, 2012, when he was arrested by the Vermont State Police after it received information from administrators at Vermont Academy in Saxtons River, where he was then employed as a teacher, that he was in possession of child pornography. Shortly after he was arrested, Nelson was fired. According to investigators, there was never any indication that Nelson had any inappropriate relationships with VA students.
According to documents filed with the Federal District Court for the District of Vermont, sometime in 2008, Nelson began communicating with another man, Kurt Harahus, of Bath, N.Y., about their shared interest in underage children and child pornography.
In 2010, Nelson traveled to New York City in the company of two children under the age of 12 to meet another man, described in court documents as "Offender # 1."
"At the time of this trip, Nelson was, had been, and would continue to engage in regular sexual activity with (the two minors)," state the court documents. During the trip to New York City, both men had sex with the two minors.
During the initial investigation, police were told by a former VA employee and friend of Nelson's that Nelson had admitted that he had an interest in minors and that he used encryption techniques to hide files on his computer. Nelson was interviewed later that same day in the headmaster's office at VA, and, according to court documents, he told the police detectives that he did in fact have child pornography on his computers.
According to court documents, Nelson took pornographic pictures of one of his victims in hotel rooms in Maine and Rhode Island and posted them to a Russian child pornography website. Investigators discovered on Harahus's computer pornographic videos of Nelson and a second young girl.
In June 2013, Nelson pleaded guilty to six counts of producing child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography. On those charges, he could be sentenced to between 15 and 190 years in prison. He could also be fined up to $1.75 million.
In July 2013, Harahus pleaded guilty two counts of possessing child pornography, each with a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in prison. He was later sentenced to five years and 10 months on both counts, to be served concurrently, with 10 years of supervised release.
Bob Audette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter @audette.reformer.