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Buffalo man who defended himself is convicted of child pornography

Paul F. Archambault Jr. reminded the jury in his child pornography trial that innocent people go to jail.

The jury responded Thursday by deliberating less than two hours before finding Archambault guilty on all four charges against him, including the allegation that he photographed an underage girl while they engaged in sex.

He will face up to 50 years in prison when sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara.

The guilty verdict on each of the child porn charges against Archambault, 28, of Buffalo, ends a three-day trial where he represented himself and was able to cross-examine the young woman he victimized three years ago. She was 16 at the time.

The unanimous verdict was returned Thursday afternoon, just hours after the lead prosecutor in the case portrayed Archambault as a predator in his closing statement.

“The defendant has a clear and uncontrollable lust for photographs of underage girls,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango told the jury.

Photographs of the nude defendant with the victim, found in Archambault’s cellphone, prove he was the one who took the photos that day in August 2012, said Mango, who prosecuted the case with Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott S. Allen Jr.

Mango also pointed to telephone calls that Archambault made to family members while in jail awaiting trial and what he described as repeated apologies for his actions.

“No denials,” Mango said. “No ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ No ‘I didn’t do it.’ Just ‘I’m sorry.’ ”

As he did throughout the trial, Archambault, who gave his own opening and closing statements, argued that the prosecution’s case was full of erroneous assumptions and appearances, or what he called “gray areas.”

“I uncovered lies and deception,” he told the jury Thursday. “Those gray areas equal reasonable doubt.”

The jury disagreed and instead found him guilty of producing, receiving and possessing child pornography.

Over the course of the trial, Mango and Allen used cellphone records and seized photographs and videos to bolster their argument that Archambault took the photos and knew that the girl, a Buffalo high school student, was a minor.

They also relied on the testimony of Archambault’s victims, including a second female photographed having sex with Archambault in 2009 when she was just 15. Archambault spent three years in prison for that crime.

The other victim, the woman at the center of the current prosecution, said Archambault went by the name Noah Miller and claimed to be a teacher at Lafayette High School in Buffalo. Their relationship started on “Meet Me,” a social networking site, and quickly progressed to the point where they exchanged nude photos of each other.

And then, in August 2012, Archambault drove her and a friend to a hotel in Amherst, where he took photos of the victim while having sex with her.

During the trial, the young woman, now 19, told the jury that Archambault once told her to lie about her age if police ever stopped them.

“What did the defendant tell her?” Mango said. “If we get pulled over by the police, tell them you’re 18.”

At one point Thursday, Archambault suggested the government was callous and uncaring in requiring the victims to testify against him.

“I hated asking her questions,” he said of the woman he photographed six years ago. “There was no reason to make her relive that pain during the trial.”

Mango countered by suggesting the woman’s testimony was also her day in court, her chance to tell her story to a jury.

“The courage showed by the victims taking the stand and testifying against the defendant, a person who exploited and manipulated them, is something that makes you pause,” Mango said after the verdict was announced.

U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. echoed those sentiments and said Archambault’s closing statement blaming the government is just one more example of his trying to manipulate the jury.

“The man was a master manipulator,” Hochul said. “He neglected to recognize that he’s the one who abused his victims physically and then made them relive the experience during the trial.”

Archambault will be sentenced at a later date.