The judge is to render his verdict on the Father Charles Picot sex abuse trial in Campbellton New Brunswick today.
Let’s pray that justice is done. Derek, my thoughts and prayers are with you.
Yesterday Bishop Emeritus Raymond Lahey entered a guilty and asked to be incarcerated. A truly bizarre twist. The guilty plea was not so much of a surprise. We see that play out time and again – a guilty plea at the 11th hour with expressions of remorse and, in turn, judicial cudos for both the belated plea and the display of sorrow.
It seems to be acceptable in the legal world. Try as I might I can not wrap my head around it. If you’re guilty, why not admit and get it over with, for the good of all? Why a system which rewards, rather than penalizes, those who who use precious court time and tax payer’s dollars for months and sometimes years on end before finally admitting guilt?
Anyway, here we go again, the only difference being that Lahey now prefers to be in jail pending his sentencing.
I smell a rat.
Some comments and observations and questions about the strange happenings in the Ottawa court house: court room # 12.
(1) Change in judges
Just a detail. Justice Maissoneuve was originally scheduled to be take the bench at the “trial.” Yesterday Justice Kirkland arrived. I have no idea why the change at the 11th hour. Perhaps Maissoneuve was sick? Whatever the cause, a retired judge from outside the region took the bench.
The “trial” was scheduled to start at 10 am.
Bishop Lahey arrived at 9:55 am. Edelson asked for a conference with Crown. Away they went. Lahey was left on the court room – sitting in the front row.
10:15 am: no judge. No Edelson. No Crown.
10:25: Edleson returned to the court room. He approached one of the two detectives who worked the case and asked him to some and “show us the book.”
Away they went, the detective toting a large binder.
10:43: all returned to the court room. Edleson had a chitty chat with his client.
Just before Justice Kirkland arrived Lahey was invited to sit forward aside his legal team.
The delay apparently related to the Crown’s request for a pres-sentence hearing. Edelson claimed he heard nothing of this until he preceding day.
(3) Bishop Emeritus Raymond Lahey
Lahey was attired in khaki coloured shirt and pants, tweed jacket and brown walking shoes. He carried a little green cloth bag, approximately 10×12. Inside the bag was a binder: one person said it was a photo album. I saw only the coil spine of what looked like a binder.
The Bishop arrived in the court room at 9:55 am. He sat at the outer edge of the front left bench. Initially he looked calm, chin resting on his left hand. On one occasion he scrutinized the crowd, taking particular note of the two detectives sitting across the aisle with binders and a large clear plastic tote of binders and files. The one marked change I noticed in his demeanour was when it was stated that one of the porn stories in his possession was titled “Master Justin Goes on Vacation.” Lahey began for the first time to scratch his forehead he really became very fidgety.
I said that Lahey sat in the front left bench. That was true to a point. Just before the judge arrived Mr. Edelson invited Lahey to move forward. From then until he was taken into custody Lahey sat alongside his legal team.
(4) Guilty plea
This was strange. Before Bishop Lahey entered his guilty plea Michael Edelson, his lawyer, wanted to rephrase the one charge (Section 163.1 (3) to which Lahey would enter the plea.
Section 163.1 (3) reads as follows:
163.1 (3) Every person who transmits, makes available, distributes, sells, advertises, imports, exports or possesses for the purpose of transmission, making available, distribution, sale, advertising or exportation any child pornography is guilty of
(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of ninety days.
Edelson found the wording `very problematic.` According to Edelson, there had been no export etc of child porn. Edelson wanted the charge rephrased to `possession for the purposes of importation.
It was done.
Lahey pled guilty to possession for the purposes of importation.
What is rather strange here is that, according to later evidence, and if I understood it correctly, one of the porn files on Lahey’s computer was downloaded 26 October 2008 at 5:40 pm.
Now it seems to me that if a kiddie porn file was downloaded a year before Lahey was arrested, would that not mean that he possessed the file as of 26 October 2008? And if that is the case, did Lahey not export the file when he left Canada in the Fall of 2009?
Does that not constitute exporting?
I don’t know. It seems strange. Perhaps that particular file was not one which was definitively determined to constitute child pornography?
Whether it is or isn’t my question is: what, if anything, happens to the sentencing provisions for a whittled down section 163.1 (3)
Does a minimum one year still stand? Or, will Edelsson argue at the sentencing hearing that Bishop Lahey shouldn’t be subjected to a one year minimum because all his client did was import for his own personal pleasure?
As I said, I smell a rat in all of this. I have trouble with the notion that it took Lahey a full 19 or twenty months to realize that he did indeed have a horde of child porn in his possess, and equally I have trouble with the notion that he simultaneously was so overwhelmed by remorse that he wanted nothing more than to go straight to jail.
My gut is that whatever this is all about it will serve Lahey well
(5) Pre-sentence report
Well, my goodness but Mr. Edelson did not want Justice Jack Kirkland to comply with the Crown’s request to have a pre-sentence report compiled.
And, Edelson won the day. There will be no pre-sentence report. Justice Jack Kirkland, a retired judge, felt that a 06 December 2010 report compiled by Dr. Bradford, a forensic psychiatrist with the Royal Ottawa Hospital, was more than adequate to assist him in sentencing. (I was told that Kirkland is from the Renfrew area but have not confirmed)
Kirkland nearly had Bradford walking on water, such praise did he heap upon the doctor and hence the merits of Braford’s evaluation of Lahey as outlined in the report. (The evaluation comprised one 41/2 hour interview and a one day sexual behaviour evaluation)
I believe this report was requested by Edelson. It was also clear that the Crown is not totally enamoured with Bradford’s conclusions and wants to cross-examine the doctor.
But, Dr. Bradford was unavailable. He was tied up with other important matters and unavailable to take the stand!. At some point in the future he will be available, but precisely when a date can be found which suits all parties remains to be seen. There will be no sentencing hearing until this accomplished.
As it stands, 26 May has been booked to set a date.
All that aside, I can not for the life of me see why Kirkland refused to order a pre-sentence report. Given the apparent dissatisfaction of the Crown with the Bradford report, why not?
Edelson argued that, amongst other things, the judge and Crown can be informed by the Bradford report which contains intimate details about Lahey. He also noted that he had provided 11 character references from persons who know Lahey well. He asked: “what are you going to hear about that you don’t already know?”
The Crown would have liked to see a pre-sentence report with, amongst other things, background info on Lahey and opportunity to interview other persons who may not have the same views as those held by the 11 who provided character references.
Edelson scoffed at the idea of interviews. “A bishop has one supervisor: the Pope. The pope is not going to take a call from the probation supervisor.”
Edelson won the day.
There will be no pre-sentence report. The Bradford report is, in the eyes of Justice Kirkland, more than satisfactory, and the judge deems Bradford to be impartial.
(6) Go to jail
As I mentioned earlier, Bishop Lahey is apparently suddenly and, I would say belatedly, overcome with remorse, so much so that not only did he enter a guilty plea, he actually asked to be put in jail.
What was rather strange here was a remark made by Justice Kirkland. Kirkland indicated that he understood why Lahey would want to be in jail because ‘everywhere he goes he’s hounded by the media.’
Where pray tell did that come from?
True, the courtroom yesterday was packed with media. There were at least 20 jammed into the small room. But, Lahey ‘hounded by the media’?
I think not. The bishop was not being hounded by the media when he was spotted a few months back sashaying along one of the downtown streets of Ottawa with a knapsack over his shoulder. He was alone. There was no indication of where he was going, where he was coming from, or what was in the bag. But, clearly he had no fear of stepping out alone. I reiterate, he was alone. There was no media barking at his heels.
Ditto his time visiting with the Oblates at the Springhurst residence. There was no media chasing him down over there.
Fair enough: if Lahey wants to forego bail and go directly to jail without passing GO,, so be it. Let him go directly to jail. But I really do not think the man has been hounded by the media for the past 19 or 20 months. :Lahey has other motives for wanting to go to jail.
Lahey is now housed in the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre. I don’t know if he is in protective custody.
Lahey had 588 photos which constituted child pornography and about 60 videos. He also had porn stories, one in excess of 300 pages. He accessed three porn websites which featured boys their early teens.
Titles of files included “Bros” (brothers); “Chosen 5 -8”; “Chosen 9 – 13”
There were themes of mastery and slavery, torture, degradation and humiliation of young boys. There were pictures of sex acts between young boys, a young male masturbating, fellatio between a young male and an adult, an act of sodomy between two males in a shower; young males with little or no pubic hair.
There were files of child porn stories with such titles as “Master Justin Goes on Vacation,” and “Days on the Beach.” Approx porn 60 child porn videos.
Lahey searched for porn using the search term “Lolita” once. He used the search term “Twink” 1,182 times. Twink is the search term used by those searching for porn involving young boys.
Amidst the filth on his drives were three documents related to Lahey’s work as a bishop.
Assistant Crown Michael Cole described Lahey as a “troubled man.”
Finally, a question: How did Lahey access child pornography before the advent of the Internet?
I am late for an appointment. I have to run….
Enough for now,