Former Nova Scotia bishop Raymond Lahey's sentencing hearing began today

Lahey’s sentencing hearing examines nature and scope of his child porn collection

By 
  • August 4, 2011

OTTAWA - At Bishop Raymond Lahey’s sentencing hearing here Aug. 4, his lawyers tried to show his child porn collection was smaller, less sophisticated and less hard-core than others examined by an Ottawa Police detective.

Detective Andrew Thompson, who found 588 child porn images, 60 videos and a file containing fictional stories on the bishop’s laptop and other devices, agreed Lahey’s collection was smaller than some he had investigated which had included hundreds of thousands of illegal images. And while Thompson agreed many of Lahey’s images were on the soft-core end of the spectrum, showing adolescent boys in nude poses, he stressed some were “quite graphic” and included “torture and stuff like that.”

The expert in child pornography investigations and computer forensics admitted he has seen worse child pornography than those in Lahey’s collection, but some of the bishop’s worst images “were right up there.” None of the material depicted infants, for example, but “the explicit images of torture are disturbing,” he said.

He told the court that the unusual combination of images, videos and stories showed that “Mr. Lahey has gone out and searched for stuff like that.”

“To have all three, we haven’t come across that very often,” he said.

Last May, after the former bishop of Antigonish pleaded guilty to importing child pornography, Thompson told the court the stories fell under themes such as torture of young boys, mastery and slavery between adults and young boys, sex acts between young boys, the degradation of young boys and the forcing of sex acts upon them. Testimony revealed one of the stories included a character named Fr. Raymond.

Lahey’s defense team pointed out the bishop downloaded the material mostly from three publicly accessible Internet sites that did not require a password, user name or a fee. Each site had a disclaimer that the images depicted only those 18 or older, and were therefore legal.

Thompson said he did not think the age of the child determined the offensiveness of the pictures. “I would say they were all offensive,” he said.

More than 155,000 images were found on the Lahey’s computer and other electronic devices, making the child porn images only about 0.3 per cent of the overall content, defense attorney Solomon Friedman noted. Roughly half of that was in the computer cache and may not have been deliberately accessed, he said. Some of the other material was legal pornography.

Thompson said any borderline images where the age was not easily determined were not included in the evidence.

Lahey’s sentencing hearing will resume on Dec. 19 when the court will hear the cross examination of Dr. John Bradford, a forensic psychiatrist who gave the bishop a formal assessment.

The bishop opted to go directly to prison after pleading guilty last May. He entered the courtroom from a side room, escorted by a female bailiff into a glass-enclosed prisoner’s dock wearing a gray tweed jacket and a green shirt unbuttoned at the collar. He smiled and seemed cheerful while speaking with his lawyers over the glass-enclosure, but once the hearing began, he seemed anxious, rubbing his chin from time to time, or scanning the courtroom without catching anyone’s eye.

Defence attorney Michael Edelson told the judge Lahey might already have completed any sentence he would receive by the Dec. 19 date. He said he may try to get an earlier court date or ask for bail proceedings if the case is prolonged.

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