Counselor exonerated on child porn charges: ‘I feel emancipated’

VERO BEACH — Gerard Lamothe, a family counselor and a former Catholic priest, has been cleared of 33 counts of possession of child pornography by the State Attorney’s office, ending over a year of turmoil in which he nearly lost his home and family.

“We are going to celebrate,” said Lamothe surrounded by his wife, Gwen, and nine of his 11 children at a press conference announcing his exoneration. “I feel emancipated, I feel liberated.”

Lamothe was arrested by Vero Beach Police in May of 2009 and was preparing to go to trial when an informant told police last December he knew someone had set up Lamothe by breaking into his office, placing the pornography on his unprotected computer and then turning the screen so it was visible from the outside of his office. Officials have not released the name of the person suspected of putting the pornography on Lamothe’s computer, but an investigation is said to be ongoing. Lamothe’s attorney, Robert Stone, said the State Attorney’s office is continuing to investigate that aspect of the case. It is not known if the person is in the area, but Lamothe said he was never contacted back in December when officials learned of the suspected break-in to his office by someone with a vendetta against him.”You know, I have 11 kids in five different schools,” he said. “No one warned us that this guy might be out there.”Lamothe said he would not recognize the suspect, but he does remember having some interaction with a next-door neighbor at the office complex where he conducted some of his counseling sessions.The police report taken in December paints a picture of an embittered man on a crusade to ruin Lamothe, according to their source. That source said the man was obsessed with Lamothe, spoke constantly of his problems with him and that “they seemed to be escalating.”The police report also provided details of the break-in to Lamothe’s office.The unidentified perpetrator “used a butter knife to break into (Lamothe’s) office after he turned the surveillance camera backward,” the report states.

After getting into the computer the person “pulled up a couple of child porn Web sites and he set the computer’s clock/time stamp back to different points so that the time of viewing was different.”

The person also “went into the internet cache and moved porn pictures around to different spots on the hard drive so that if (Lamothe) found the recent ones he would not think to check in different locations for other hidden ones.”

The person then “turned the monitor around so that it faced a window” and maximized a picture of a female child performing a sex act on an adult male.Chris Taylor of the State Attorney’s Office confirmed an investigation is underway into the break-in of Lamothe’s office, but would not reveal any details of its status.For Lamothe and his family, the year has been at once awful and one in which they have grown closer.”You hit the heights and depths of emotion,” he said. “We grew together as a family and it forced us to examine our own hearts and beliefs.”As to the future, he plans to stay in the area and wants to re-establish his work as a pastoral counselor and return the unswerving support of his friends and family.”This is not just vindication,” he said. “It is affirmation to be supportive and non-judgmental. I am going to do that the rest of my life.”

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