Kid porn priest sentenced to ‘time served’

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The Ottawa Sun

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Susan Sherring BY  , OTTAWA SUN

Former Catholic bishop Raymond Lahey walked out of the Ottawa courthouse Wednesday — technically a free man.

But while he’s served his jail time, the self-admitted child porn addict can never really be set free.

Instead, the enormity of what he’s done, of what he is, will stay with him for the rest of his life; the stigma will force him to live like a “social pariah.”

In his world, this man of the cloth can only receive redemption from his God.

Lahey was sentenced to 15 months in jail and two years probation by Ontario Court Justice Kent Kirkland.

But having already served eight months following his guilty plea in May and given a two for one credit for that time, he’s done his time behind bars.

However, his life will never be the same.

Once a revered and respected bishop, Lahey’s name can now be found on a national registry of sex offenders.

“The sentencing in virtually every one of these cases essentially marks a person for life, especially with all the ancillary orders and as a result you become a social pariah,” said his lawyer Mike Edelson.

Having devoted much of his life to the Catholic church, there’s no doubt Lahey will never give another mass, will never offer a blessing, will never be allowed to give communion.

In fact, a year ago Lahey himself wrote the Pope asking to return to life as a layman.

He still hasn’t received a response.

With or without that, Edelson said it’s his client’s “intention to withdraw” from the priesthood.

“With his life as a man of the cloth over forever, how will Lahey live, how will he move forward?

“I don’t think he’s got any concrete plans yet, but I have an idea of what he is planning to do in the medium term but I’m not going to disclose them,” Edelson said.

“I think he’s now living with what he’s done and he realizes what his life is going to be like as a result of what he’s done. And he’s resigned to his fate, as they say,” he added.

As he left the courthouse, Lahey brushed past reporters into a waiting car, refusing to talk to reporters.

Lahey’s guilty plea in May may have helped reduce his sentence but it did nothing in the minds of thousands of disillusioned Catholics who hold their priests to a higher level.

It’s difficult, if not near impossible, to reconcile the image of Lahey — now a sorry looking character some 30 pounds lighter with the man who perused through child porn; who became addicted to viewing the scenes of bondage featuring young men bound and on all fours found on his personal computer.

When his computer was seized at the Ottawa airport, there were hundreds of child porn pictures and dozens of  videos — some involving adolescent boys engaging in sex acts while wearing a crucifix and rosary beads.

Did his faith mean so little to him?

In May he pleaded guilty and asked to be jailed immediately.

The Crown withdrew a more serious charge of importation.

In delivering his sentence, Justice Kirkland clearly wrestled with the life Lahey appeared to have lead as a bishop — and the possession of child porn and all that entails.

As Kirkland spoke, Lahey — now a tiny sad figure — appeared to listen intently, most often his arms crossed, but sometimes rubbing his chin as his crimes were recounted, his life detailed.

“Who is Raymond Lahey?” Kirkland asked rhetorically.

He didn’t come to any conclusions, saying it was “particularly onerous”  to try to balance what Lahey appeared to once have been versus the child porn addict he’d become.

When the decision was rendered, Lahey’s expression didn’t change.

The courtroom was quiet until a court observer began to scream out.

“I”m a f…ing survivor. He’s a f…ing demon.” Another onlooker in the court was leaving the room, muttering to herself, “Disgusting.”

It was unclear what she found so unsavoury, the emotional outburst, or Lahey himself.

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