Disgraced bishop Raymond Lahey freed from jail despite child porn conviction

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The National Post

04 January 2012

  Jan 4, 2012 – 10:58 AM ET | Last Updated: Jan 4, 2012 3:03 PM ET

Chris Mikula / Postmedia News files

Chris Mikula / Postmedia News files

Former bishop Raymond Lahey arrives at the Ottawa Courthouse in on May 4 for the start of his trial on child-porn charges.

By Andrew Seymour

OTTAWA — A Catholic bishop with an addiction to Internet pornography won’t spend another day in jail for possessing child pornography that included naked young boys wearing rosary beads and crucifixes.

Ontario Court Justice Kent Kirkland sentenced Raymond Lahey to 15 months in jail Wednesday, time that he will be credited with already having served.

Lahey, who once negotiated a $13-million settlement for victims of child sex abuse by priests as the bishop of Antigonish, N.S., pleaded guilty in May to possession of child pornography for the purpose of importation.

Lahey, 71, had been returning from a trip abroad when customs agents checked his laptop computer and found images which included young boys and teens engaged in sex acts including bondage and torture.

Police discovered 588 child pornography images along with 63 videos and several stories with themes of slavery.

The child pornography made up only a small percentage of the approximately 155,000 pictures of pornography he had on the computer.

Lahey voluntarily surrendered himself into custody to begin serving what the law says must be a minimum mandatory sentence of a year in jail.

However, Justice Kirkland ruled at Lahey’s last court appearance before Christmas that the contrite Lahey should be eligible for two-for-one credit for the eight months he already spent behind bars.

With 16 months credit, Lahey’s sentence was complete, Justice Kirkland found.

Crown prosecutors had asked for a sentence of 18 to 22 months.

During an earlier court appearance, Lahey told Justice Kirkland he had an “indiscriminate” addiction to online pornography but didn’t seek help because of his high-ranking position in the church.

Lahey said he secretly wanted to be found out, so it was a “blessing in disguise” when customs agents stopped him at the Ottawa airport in September 2009.

A psychiatrist who examined Lahey testified he was interested in gay sado-masochistic sex. Lahey wasn’t a risk to reoffend against a child, Dr. John Bradford testified, adding that he was confident Lahey was not a pedophile.

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