Nashua man granted PR bail

Local man charged with allegedly possessing child pornography

Photo by NASHUA POLICE Matthew Verstraete, age 34, of 6 Heritage Village Drive Apt #2, Nashua

NASHUA – Matthew Verstraete has no criminal history, has lived and worked full-time in Nashua for at least 10 years and cooperated fully with police after they arrested him Sunday on child porn possession charges, but a prosecutor said Monday these images were so “devastating” Verstraete should be held in jail on preventive detention.

“I know these are just images, and I know that allegations sometimes aren’t accurate, but I can’t imagine the trauma these young children went through … it blows my mind,” Assistant County Attorney Brett Harpster told Superior Court Judge Charles Temple at the outset of Verstraete’s bail hearing Monday.

Verstraete, 34, of 6 Heritage Village Drive, faces 10 felony counts of possession of child sexual abuse images, charges that accuse him of having the images on his computer.

But Temple decided against Harpster’s recommendation for preventive detention, instead granting the defendant personal recognizance bail with conditions that he have no contact with children under age 16, commit no crimes, make his court appearances, and not access any devices with online service, except for employment purposes.

Verstraete also must submit to a psychosexual evaluation, according to the bail order, and return to court Jan. 30 for a review hearing.

Police said Verstraete’s arrest was the result of an investigation launched in August when police received a “cyber tip” from the New Hampshire Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

“Numerous child sexual abuse images were located on Verstraete’s computer,” police said, and he was ultimately charged with 10 counts of possessing the images.

Sarah Amorin, a public defender who represented Verstraete at Monday’s hearing, told Temple her client has physical disabilities that are exacerbated by stress, and the disabilities make it dangerous for him to be housed at Valley Street jail.

“He was cooperative with the police — he’s not a flight risk … ,” Amorin said.

She pointed out that although Verstraete faces the possession allegations, “he is not charged with creating or disseminating these images.”

Further, Amorin said, he was “up front with the police that the (child sexual abuse images) were not the images he was interested in.” She said by way of explanation that Verstraete has downloaded “legal porn” in the past, but sometimes certain “batches” of files he downloads contain a random child sexual abuse image among the “legal porn” images.

Temple, in ordering personal recognizance bail, said he does agree with Harpster regarding “the horrible nature of these allegations, but they are just that – allegations.”

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