Lanctot enters plea deal

Former Nashua teacher headed to prison in sex-solicitation case

Staff photo by Dean Shalhoup Bruce Lanctot, right, confers with his lawyer, Attorney William Korman, during Thursday's Superior Court plea and sentencing hearing in his 2016 sex-solicitation case.

NASHUA – A Superior Court judge on Thursday accepted in its entirety a prosecutor’s recommendation that former Nashua High School South teacher Bruce Lanctot go to state prison for at least 21/2 years, and up to 5 years, for soliciting sex from students and sending them lewd photos of himself.

“This is not a happy day. … I am going to impose the state’s recomendation,” Judge Lawrence Smukler said at the outset of his sentencing commentary at the roughly 45-minute hearing in Hillsborough County Superior Court South.

Lanctot, 41, of 25 Stark St., Apt. 0, had reached an agreement with prosecutors that called for him to plead guilty to seven of the 10 felony charges against him in exchange for a state prison term, the length of which the judge would decide after hearing testimony from the prosecutor and Lanctot’s lawyer, Attorney William A. Korman.

Under the so-called “capped plea” agreement, the state, represented Thursday by Assistant County Attorney Cassie Devine, recommended Lanctot serve the 2 1/2-5 year sentence, while Korman recommended his client be given a deferred sentence, meaning he would avoid prison time if he remained on good behavior.

Korman’s recommendation came with certain conditions, including that Lanctot spend the first year of the deferred term on house arrest, and that he be prohibited from using social media.

“I believe (the recommendation) would serve the appropriate purpose that any other sentence would,” Korman said, noting that Lanctot has no criminal record, and suffers from “a serious medical problem” he described as complications of Crohn’s disease.

But Smukler said he feels the sentence is already “on the lenient end,” citing Lanctot’s “position of authority” as a teacher and that “this wasn’t just one occasion when you crossed the line,” a reference to the series of offenses Lanctot was charged with.

The stand-committed prison term is tied to Lanctot’s guilty pleas to two counts of prohibited use of computer services and one count of indecent exposure involving a child under 16.

He was sentenced to 3 1/2-7 years in prison, all suspended for five years after his release, on four other charges, including two counts of prohibited use of computer services, and one count each of endangering the welfare of a child, and endangering the welfare of a child (solicitation of sex), according to the agreement.

The other three charges – two counts of endangering the welfare of a child (solitication of sex), and one count of falsifying physical evidence – were dismissed as part of the agreement.

Devine, the prosecutor, said police began investigating the matter in 2016, after receiving a law-enforcement letter from the state Division of Children, Youth and Families, alleging that a student at NHS South had been receiving inappropriate messages from a teacher.

Once police identified Lanctot as a suspect, he turned himself in and admitted to sending the material, but told police the recipients were at least 18 years old, Devine said.

“But he clearly knew how old they were,” she added, referring to two of the recipients who were 14 and 15 when the exchanges began.

Korman, in asking Smukler for a deferred sentence, said his client was required to “surrender his teaching license in perpetuity. He will never be allowed to teach again. And he must register as a sex offender,” he said.

Korman said Lanctot’s family has been supportive of him throughout, and noted that his parents, his sister and his fiancee were present for the hearing.

Addressing Lanctot’s medical issues, Korman said he has “considerable concerns about (Lanctot’s) ability to maintain adequate medical care in prison.

“With all due respect to the state’s offer, I don’t think this is something easily dealt with in prison,” Korman added. He turned to Lanctot’s family members and asked them to hold up a large plastic bin.

“My client literally has a box that he has to keep with him, in order to appropriately take care” of his medical problem,” Korman said, gesturing toward the bin.

“I’m not even sure they’ll allow him to have it in prison.”

Smukler, in his sentencing comments, said Lanctot’s lack of criminal record and decision to enter a plea deal rather than subject the victims “to having to come in an testify” at a trial weigh in his

favor.

“But on the other hand, you (were) in a psotion of authority, and this wasn’t just one occasion … it was conduct that was repeated.”

While recognizing that Lanctot entered therapy and enrolled in a sex-addiction recovery program, Smukler said he should have done so sooner.

“Your wake-up call should have been when you crossed the line the first time, not when you were arrested,” the judge said.

“Under the circumstances, this is a very fair sentence … it could well have been more,” he added. “It probably should be.”

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-1256, dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DeanS.