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Robert Joubert sentenced to 40 years for child porn, sexual exploitation

Robert Joubert

Robert Joubert

Robert Joubert, a former Concord area youth baseball coach accused of molesting multiple players and other young men, was sentenced yesterday to 40 years in federal prison for possessing child pornography and sexually exploiting a Hillsboro boy – charges he continues to deny.

In handing down his sentence, Judge Joseph Laplante acknowledged that it was slightly less than the 45 years prosecutors had requested. But he said four decades would nonetheless ensure that Joubert, 60, is “never around young boys again.”

Joubert sat impassively as the sentence was read, his hand clasped tightly around his mouth, eyes fixed on a far wall. Minutes earlier, following an emotional outburst in which he accused a witness of being a drug dealer, Joubert said he could not “in good conscience” admit guilt to the offenses, which a jury convicted him of in November.

“I’m sick of the lies,” he told Laplante during the outburst. “For two years, your honor, for two years I’ve been listening to lies.”

Joubert’s public defender, Bjorn Lange, had asked for a 15-year sentence, with supervised release thereafter. Lange urged Laplante not to conflate his client’s convictions with charges still pending in state and federal courts. Joubert is awaiting criminal trials in both Merrimack and Hillsborough counties, where he’s accused of sexually assaulting four boys between 1984 and 2002, as well as in federal court on a claim that he took a boy to New York between 1996 and 1997 to engage in sexual activity. The next trial is set to begin in Merrimack County Superior Court on March 3.

Lange called his client a “responsible parent” who had led a “responsible life.”

“He did a lot of good,” Lange said.

But the witness, one of three men who testified in November that Joubert had sexually assaulted them as boys, said in remarks to the court that Joubert had instead used his coaching stature to lure and then “destroy kids and ruin them inside.”

“The man does not deserve to walk the streets,” he said, before Joubert cut him off, shouting, “drug dealer!”

During Joubert’s trial, jurors were shown three video recordings of the Hillsboro boy, between the ages of 10 and 12, being made to masturbate an unidentified man. Though Joubert’s face never appeared in the recordings, prosecutors said he was the perpetrator, and they offered as proof several other home videos that he apparently filmed and that hovered obsessively on the victim’s and other boys’ faces, mouths and hands.

The victim, now in his early 20s, testified that Joubert made the videos and had coerced him into performing sexual acts. He said he had played on Joubert’s baseball teams and had lived with him for a period while Joubert was dating his mother. Many of the clips seized from Joubert’s Manchester home showed the boy inside a house, at times sleeping, at other times watching television, playing video games or walking about.

“I’m proud of my son for standing up,” the man’s father said yesterday.

“You should be,” Laplante responded.

Joubert is “no coach, never was,” the man continued. “He’s a predator.”

But Joubert also had vocal supporters in court: the parents of another baseball player who said he had done nothing but good things for their son. Robert Sprague said he had become friends with Joubert since the case first opened, having visited him about 20 times in Merrimack County jail.

“He has changed our lives, has made my son’s life better,” Sprague told Laplante. “I don’t know about this other stuff, but I wanted you to know he has done this great thing.”

But after Sprague’s wife, Laurie Weisz, offered a similar remark, Laplante said he was confused.

“I’m not sure how to take your comments,” he told her, making note of the “disturbing” evidence that had been introduced at trial.

“Are you aware of that?” he asked Weisz.

“I think if he was a rich man he could have hired an attorney who would have prevented the evidence from ever making it into court,” Weisz responded.

“So, do you think he’s innocent or that the evidence shouldn’t have been admitted?” Laplante continued.

“Both,” she said.

Joubert, who has 14 days to appeal Laplante’s ruling, also defended himself, reading what amounted to a lengthy prepared monologue in which he touched on his affinity for baseball – “I’ve loved baseball ever since age 5” – on his coaching career – “While not rich, I felt I was contributing” – and on his ethical grounding – “I’ve not been perfect, nobody is, but I’ve always tried to treat people as I’d want them to treat me.”

“I hope to be remembered as a good, kind, caring person,” Joubert said.

“Anything else you want to say?” Laplante later asked, once the sentence was read.

“No, other than I’m tired of two years of lies,” Joubert said.

“We’re all tired,” Laplante replied. “That’s why it’s over. We’re adjourned.”

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, jblackman@cmonitor or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

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