Lahey plea came too late: lawyer

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CBC News

Posted: May 5, 2011 10:48 AM NT

Last Updated: May 5, 2011 10:48 AM NT

Former bishop Raymond Lahey pleaded guilty to a child pornography charge Wednesday in Ottawa. Former bishop Raymond Lahey pleaded guilty to a child pornography charge Wednesday in Ottawa. (CBC )
[External link to interview with Archbishop of  Saint John’s Newfoundland, Martin Currie]

A St. John’s lawyer says disgraced former Roman Catholic bishop Raymond Lahey waited far too long to plead guilty in a child pornography case.

Lahey, 70, pleaded guilty in Ottawa Wednesday to a charge of possessing child pornography for the purposes of importing it to Canada.

Greg Stack, who represents claimant Todd Boland in a civil action against Lahey that alleges sexual abuse, said he was disappointed that Lahey had not made the plea earlier.

Lahey was charged in September 2009 after Canadian Border Services agents found pornographic materials on his laptop computer.

“I would have thought that … he would have entered a guilty plea much earlier. He had many earlier opportunities to do so,” Stack told CBC News.

Lahey, a native of St. John’s who resigned as the bishop responsible for the diocese in Antigonish, N.S. was taken into custody after his lawyer said he wanted to start serving time immediately. He has not yet been sentenced, although a court hearing is scheduled for May 26.

In a statement of claim against Lahey, Boland alleges that Lahey fondled him when he was a young boy at Mount Cashel, the St. John’s orphanage that closed in 1990 amid a sexual abuse scandal and a royal commission into how the criminal justice system in Newfoundland and Labrador shut down a police investigation 15 years earlier.

Lahey has denied Boland’s claims, and the matter has not yet gone to court.

Stack, who has represented dozens of people who were sexually assaulted by clergy, said the Lahey case appears to be part of a trend involving the Roman Catholic church.

“There doesn’t seem to be any hurry on their part or any eagerness to settle these matters,” Stack said.

“They drag them out, and they often put these victims through pretty horrendous discovery types proceedings.”

On the child pornography charge, Lahey faces a minimum sentence of one year in jail.


  • Hatterstandard2011/05/06
    at 4:17 PM ET
  • wheelsrobstandard2011/05/06
    at 12:40 AM ET
    “Thus I clothe my naked villany with
    old odd ends stolen forth from holy writ and
    seem a saint while most I play the devil.”
  • old grumpy manstandard2011/05/05
    at 11:58 PM ET
    “Pope Benedict XVI has sacked an outspoken Australian bishop who had called on the church to consider ordaining women and married men.

Pope Benedict XVI Stefano Rellandini sacked controversial Australian Bishop William Morris who spoke out about the ordination of women and married men. Stefano Rellandini/ReutersThe Vatican said in a statement Monday that the pope had “removed from pastoral care” Bishop William Morris of the Toowoomba diocese. That language was unexpectedly strong by Vatican standards. However, no explanation for the move was given.

Australian media said Morris recently published an open letter saying he was being removed for a 2006 message to the faithful in which he argued that a shortage of priests should prompt the church to consider ordaining women and married men.

Morris said the letter sparked complaints to Rome, which in turn led to a Vatican investigation.

© The Associated Press, 2011

I wonder what the chances of His Holiness tossing Bishop Lahey out of the Church…doubtful I think, given that his crimes were against helpless children! Seems that the Church needs to get its priorities in order.

  • olympiamanstandard2011/05/05
    at 9:06 PM ET
    You must realize that after he serves his time in jail, he will not finish the rest of his life a normal person. He is sick and he will continue to support the child porn industry in some form or another.That is why there is a child porn industry. Only the judge can prevent this from happening by giving him what he deserves, LIFE IN PRISON.
    That may sound crude but HE KNEW kids were being drugged and tortured and treated like animals and he still went around the world to load up his computer with the sickest images and videos possible.
  • OISEDUCstandard2011/05/05
    at 6:23 PM ET
    Hector72 asks “Why don’t we hear about the Protestants having the same problems?” Excuse me, but the Anglican Church in Canada is very close to bankruptcy after paying out millions to victims of abuse by Anglican (married) clergy. Being married or not has nothing to do with it. The vast majority of abusers (more than 90%) are the parents of the abused children. The child porn industry is fueled by parents who abuse their own children. The sexual abuse of children is a societal problem that has always existed and needs to be faced head on without focusing all the blame on one small segment of society.
    • cbcwinsstandard2011/05/05
      at 4:30 PM ET
      I just wonder how many other priests associated with Bishop Lahey are guilty of the same crime? I don’t believe for a minute that he was in this by himself. How many other priests are going to, or should fall also?
    • harmaxstandard2011/05/05
      at 3:46 PM ET
      I’m not a member of the Catholic faith. What amazes me is the arm’s length way that the Church is dealing with this issue, and, similarly, the way that other religious organizations have dealt with similar situations. It seems that there is no acceptance of responsibility. I’m afraid I don’t understand why it is that the parishoners would be expected to raise money to offset fines and lawsuits, that makes no sense at all.

    If a Priest, or a Bishop, or a Reverend or a Deacon, or whatever, is convicted criminally and his parent organization is found guilty in a civil action, the payment needs to be made by the parent governing body….not the flock.

  • HeerMe0utstandard2011/05/05
    at 2:56 PM ET
    I once watched CBCs Passionate Eye: Sex Crimes and the Vatican.
    I was so terrified, disturbed and upset that I couldn’t help but cry:

    The fact that such a corrupt “organized” religious organization has this type of influence on so many PEOPLE that TRUST them makes them evil in any REAL faith.
    Oh and guess what?

    Legal immunity even!
    What makes these so-called “priests of faith” immune to the laws that we must obide?
    Isn’t there something wrong with this?

    This is exploitation to the power of ten.

    I pray for the victims and pray for justice and that The Vatican be held accoutable for their criminal neglegence.

  • HeerMe0utstandard2011/05/05
    at 2:52 PM ET
    Please Google Crimen sollicitationis.
    At least for the sake of the victims.
  • rebeltowniestandard2011/05/05
    at 2:43 PM ET
    Having been on site for the Mount Cashel trials – it just seems to more of the same – stretch things out – hope people who sue die – drag your feet any way you can.
    I note that in the U.S, there are attempts being made to have the Vatican accept some responsibility instead of having congregants in Parishes affected told – it’s your bill !
    In my life I cannot think of a longer, more depressing story than sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.
    I won’t name the Archbishop of St. John’s at the time all this hit the front page – but at a press conference he said – It’s a mystery.
    Yes, decades later the handling by the church continues to be – a mystery . Victims I spoke with at the time felt that what goes around comes around – hasn’t come around yet.
  • seanachiestandard2011/05/05
    at 2:30 PM ET
    Bucker96 from Antgonish raises a valid point or two. The community has been rocked again…..and it seems the people of that area are losing land and giving out of their own pockets to help the abuse victims. I’ve always said there is enough gold on the Vatican ceilings and walls to pay for this problem of abuse. I’ m really not sure about how much gold in Rome, but I can only imagine the Church is very rich in its treasures etc. It’s time the Catholic people start to understand that something is very wrong with its leaders. You may argue that it is only a few…..but I say it is many. There’s something fundamentally wrong with men forced to be celibate and the reason why they enter the church. My good anglican friends have women and men as pastors, and married too. It’s the normal route. That’s not to say pedophiles should get married. No, there is a whole psychological matter at hand here. Lahey must have known that the pictures showing kids engaged in acts of sex was ultimately harming them. There’s the real problem. His fantasies because of his suppressed sexual behaviour are no doubt a real problem for him. So it is with many a priest today. I wonder how most handle it from the Pope on down. Yes, if this were a sports story or school teacher problem of abuse run wild, an inquiry would be long presented by now and major safeguards put in place. But once again the Church has remained ultimately silent and self-serving on this, despite the interviews where they have said they are sorry. T’is time for a complete over-haul…and it starts with the people…the PEOPLE… re-looking at their faith, their church and its leaders and making big decisions for their future children. It’s scary…I wonder if the great prostitute has arrived.
  • Socialistboystandard2011/05/05
    at 2:24 PM ET
    10 years minimum! Please don’t let him out early… Put him in with the tough crowd. They don’t take kindly to his type…. Indocrination of a child into organized religion is a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as I understand it. Please correct me if I am wrong. I’m open minded and will not be offended.
  • HECTOR72standard2011/05/05
    at 2:14 PM ET
    at 11:59 AM ET
    Hide JohLeb’s
    commentsThe only way the Roman Catholic church will fix this disgrace is to allow for the priesthood to marry and ordain women. Why don’t we hear about the Protestants having the same problems? Religious rules imposed 2000 years ago have become irrelevant. They just don’t make sense in this day and age. How much more abuse went undetected and unreported? The numbers would probably boggle the mind. .
  • Are you serious? That attitude is as naive as the people in the past who thought that priests or other clergymen would never harm a child. There are plenty of married men out there who are pedophiles. You can read the news almost every day and see how many men – many of them married – from all walks of life are convicted of sex crimes against children and it won’t take you a lot of online searching to find stories of clergymen of other faiths who have molested children. It isn’t just a Catholic problem nor is it a just a problem among clergymen. These sickos are everywhere.

    This issue is not nearly as simple as you believe.

  • misfitstandard2011/05/05
    at 2:05 PM ET
    at 9:27 AM ETHide Pykezer’s
    commentsI would argue that its the religions of 2000 years ago which have become irrelevant, not just their antiquated rules.
  • Tell that to the scientists who are working with Buddhist monks on mapping brain patterns (scans show they have different brain patterns due to meditation practices)

    and the monk who has his PhD in Biophysics and is working with scientists on meditation programs to help children with learning disabilities.

    Tell that to Shintoists (mainly in Japan) who see nature as sacred and are directly responsible for having large areas of natural land and forests, ect protected.

    It’s quite ignorant to paint everything with the same close-minded brush.

  • PSHigginsstandard2011/05/05
    at 1:53 PM ET
    How many times must we endure some sanctimonious mealy mouthed cleric talk of “healing” while they do everything in their power to prevent the process?
  • Bebop Rocksstandard2011/05/05
    at 1:52 PM ET
    pardonmebut wrote: Child molesters come from everywhere. It’s just easier to label some for the “simple” people in society.
  • I may be “simple” but this fellow claimed to represent the sole legitimate moral authority in the universe. He walk the streets every day cloaked in that mantle. To me that makes him culpable in an extraordinary way.

  • baytrapperstandard2011/05/05
    at 1:10 PM ET
    Mr. Lahey, they are waiting for you at the Pearly Gates….good luck explaining your way into Heaven….don’t use the word “Bishop” in front of your name when you get there. I have a feeling that just won’t help you get in.
  • TheGrumpyScotstandard2011/05/05
    at 1:06 PM ET
    His “guilty plea” (note that it is to one charge only – why?) is very likely the result of a deal, which will give him a suspended sentence. Isn’t it grand to be in the Catholic Church and shielded from the just results of your own actions?
  • Xlocumstandard2011/05/05
    at 12:59 PM ET
    They say the senior years are like a second childhood. I hope this man’s second childhood spent among other prisoners (who have power and authority over him based on their age, size, strength, and prison stature) resembles the first and only childhood of many of his victims over whom he held such power!
  • Just Say’instandard2011/05/05
    at 12:55 PM ET
    He gets the minimum there is no doubt about that. The people who made the porn; were they ever to be caught in Canada, they would get the minimum sentence as well, I swear it’s like Canadan Judges feel child porn is only as bad as shoplifting. Maybe they have a drive full of it themselves.
  • I’m Just say’n

  • angus99standard2011/05/05
    at 12:48 PM ET
    The sad part about all of this according to the “BOSTON GLOBE” is that this appears to be the 672nd Priest or Catholic Church Leader in the world who has committed perverse sins of his own faith and ironically a man who counselled others in similar straits.
    There are many great people in the Catholic faith who do great work for humanity and overseas nations who need help.
    But their good work is grossly overshadowed by the misdeeds of a few, now numbering 672 across the World.
    Had this been hockey coaches or school teachers there would have been a huge outcry for a PUBLIC INQUIRY.
    But since it is a Church matter, the authorities are silent and this is sad.
    What is also sad is the silence from HEADQUARTERS, that is ROME.
    And the VICTIMS will suffer for many years, whether financially compensated or not.
    Some we will never know as the Catholic Church has bought their silence.
    Catholic Education Leaders preach MORAL SUPERIORITY of their faith. Here is another example of the shamefulness of that statement.
  • minionstandard2011/05/05
    at 12:47 PM ET
    Lock him up and throw away the key…he is a scourge to society in many countries…
  • IssuesNLstandard2011/05/05
    at 12:41 PM ET
    It is a good thing that the Pope has Diplomatic Immunity because with the amount of unlawfull behavior shown within the Catholic Religion it would be hard to believe that he was unaware of the unlawful acts being committed.
  • Its pretty sad when you are ashamed to tell people you were baptised Catholic in the 1980’s

  • mikefromcanmore2standard2011/05/05
    at 12:35 PM ET
    Hey, DO TELL. Obviously I was referring to the “minimum” sentence”. You’re awful picky about such a minor thing when the topic is so serious.
  • pardonmebutstandard2011/05/05
    at 12:30 PM ET
    Child molesters come from everywhere. It’s just easier to label some for the “simple” people in society.
    The deeper issue is with humanity in general, religious or not.
  • Equal punishment for all.

  • OttawaMuserstandard2011/05/05
    at 12:23 PM ET
    One thing that apparently alerted Canada Customs agents to Lahey in the first place was the presence of a number of passport stamps from countries known for their child sex tourism trade. Why then has there been no mention of investigating this man in light of the sanctions of the criminal code against child sex tourism? This, plus the seemingly significant size of Lahey’s cache of child porn, makes me think that a plea bargain based on a guilty plea to ONE charge of possession alone amounts to a token sanction only
  • garrisongetarstandard2011/05/05
    at 12:21 PM ET
    @JohLeb; so you think the RC Church can ‘fix this disgrace’ by allowing priests to marry ? . You obviously don’t realize that pedophiles are attracted to young males, they’re not the least bit interested in relationships with women. You also don’t realize that this problem is not confined solely to the RC Church, as you state. It happens in the Anglican, United, and Pentecostal Churches, and the Salvation Army, etc. There have even been cases where men in these denominations have married to cover up the fact that they’re pedophiles.
  • totallyconfusedstandard2011/05/05
    at 11:54 AM ET

    Lahey won’t spend any time in jail. The delay in this trial since 2009 suggests it was to be kept out of focus. The fact that it was moved from Nova Scotia to Ottawa was another attempt to distance itself. Interesting was the past story of his activities in NF but he managed to escape that concern and move to Nova Scotia. The fact that he pleaded guilty is another example of how he attempts to expediate himself. Being 70 isn’t an excuse for past behaviour but justice never prevails with aged people. There would be no justice served. Better to look into whether he was sheltered and protected in his life and go after those who kept the records private.
  • Zeemanstandard2011/05/05
    at 11:54 AM ET
    Ensure he goes into general population whilst in prison please.
  • wheelsrobstandard2011/05/05
    at 11:50 AM ET
    Since you are so remorseful and guilt ridden of your crime that you want to start serving your sentence immediately, it also stands to reason that your remorse for the suffering YOU imposed on these children of god will dictate that you also demand the maximum sentence under our laws.
  • Put up or shut up FATHER.

  • Bucker96standard2011/05/05
    at 11:40 AM ET
    In response to CanIspeak2this,
  • I live in Antigonish, NS and this has really rattled the Catholic community here.

    The $15 million settlement? You’d think maybe the Vatican would sell off a painting or two, but no, instead the Church is collecting donations from the parishiners to pay the debt.

    Now, in a small town such as this, the community obviously can’t come up with these types of funds so they have started to auction off property and land that the local people have built for themselves, only to see them go……and there is nothign that they can do about it.

    some of these small churches/halls/properties have been cared for by these families for generations, and now because of Lahey’s settlement deal he struck, gone forever.

  • riklgdstandard2011/05/05
    at 11:27 AM ET
    Hopefully he will get his reward, if not here than later I HOPE. He is a slap in the face of the thousands of priests around the world who do their best to be devout, caring and helpful to their flock.
  • Worse part of these stories it that they’ve only been coming out over the last few decades and this has most likely been going on for centuries but who them would have even dreamed of defying a priest let alone a bishop or higher…

    AGAIN though I emphasize that they are a few rotten apples among the 1000s of good people just like in any group/organization in any society.

  • Born Free Taxed To Deathstandard2011/05/05
    at 11:24 AM ET
    He may even get kicked out of the catholic church. Organized religion “aka” cults are a plague that is out of control.
  • mikefromcanmore2standard2011/05/05
    at 11:13 AM ET
    I don’t understand why the sentence is so slight. It’s not like they are just looking at the pictures or videos. It’s because they are looking that young children are treated in this manner to make more videos and take more pictures so people like him can “enjoy” it.
  • His sentence in a case like this should be just as severe as if he had kidnapped, beaten and abused these children. How many of these children are criminally disposed of after they have outlived their usefulness?

    I’ll say it once more. The Catholic Church is outdated, antiquated, out of touch and has absolutely no relevance in today’s society.

  • HeerMe0utstandard2011/05/05
    at 11:08 AM ET
    Since the CATHOLIC CHURCH covered this type of activity up they need to be charged with criminal neglegence! Google Crimen sollicitationis and prepare to cry for victims all over the world.
  • JohLebstandard2011/05/05
    at 10:59 AM ET
    The only way the Roman Catholic church will fix this disgrace is to allow for the priesthood to marry and ordain women. Why don’t we hear about the Protestants having the same problems? Religious rules imposed 2000 years ago have become irrelevant. They just don’t make sense in this day and age. How much more abuse went undetected and unreported? The numbers would probably boggle the mind.
  • Thanatosstandard2011/05/05
    at 10:53 AM ET
    He’ll last about 2 minutes on an open tier in the joint.
  • misfitstandard2011/05/05
    at 10:49 AM ET
    at 7:36 AM ETHide meoldtrout’s
    comments I have a question i will ask. Does the religious affiliation of the Judge and lawyers play a role in leancy for these priest. Should a Judge who is a devot chatholic sit over these trials. Is he influanced in his decision in anyway
  • I doubt it.

    Judges swear oaths – and unlike priests they are bound by duty and law to keep them.

    If anything I’d saw if a judge was a good Catholic and decided to not be professional about the situation it would work against the priest, not for him.

    No religious person, or decent person would help protect this man.

  • Robert_Rstandard2011/05/05
    at 10:48 AM ET
    “Lahey faces a minimum sentence of one year in jail”.
    No surprise here … and don’t be surprised when the pervert is given only 1 or 2 years. If there is any justice served in this case, it will dispensed to this pedophile when he is behind bars.
  • GreenNorthstandard2011/05/05
    at 10:47 AM ET
    People who believe in magic never cease to amaze me.
  • Just another Canuckstandard2011/05/05
    at 10:46 AM ET
    Another reason to avoid organized religion like the plague on humanity that it really is.
  • abby girlstandard2011/05/05
    at 10:43 AM ET
    There has and probably always will be stuff like this that goes on in the Catholic church. He should go to prison for the rest of his life and whoever put a one year sentence on him should be ashamed of themselves. He should also tell authorities all of his connections for this pornography. All this said you can not judge all priests and bishops the same.
  • KLM409standard2011/05/05
    at 10:40 AM ET
    Imagine being a moral, ethical priest in this day and age. It must be difficult, trying to maintain one’s faith when the very foundations of your beliefs are being eroded by men like Lahey.
  • NewsDogstandard2011/05/05
    at 10:39 AM ET
    Hopefully he will be excumunicated from the church and not be allowed to preach ever again. With all this stuff happening over the last 10 years or more why wouldn’t he resign and ask the church for help…physco help… He has fallen into the devils trap. While in jail i hope he gets the help he needs to save his soul….
  • I also feel so bad for the kids who were in the pictures… I hope that they can get help as well. They are the victims and need the true support of the real church….

  • CanIspeak2thisstandard2011/05/05
    at 10:32 AM ET
    I would hope that this guy gets more than one year in prison no matter what his age. Nothing should be taken into consideration for this guy. He actually had the nerve
    to look after and negotiate a settlement in another case while doing the same thing to himself…………
    In August 2009, he brokered a $15-million settlement for victims of sexual abuse by priests of the diocese of Antigonish dating back to 1950. At the time, Lahey said sorry to the victims on behalf of the church.
  • “I want to formally apologize to every victim and to their families for the sexual abuse that was inflicted upon those young people who were entitled instead to the trust and protection of priests of the church,” the bishop said in 2009.

    “I want them to know how terribly sorry we are, how wrong this abuse was, and how we are now trying to right these past wrongs.”

    He actually stood in front of people and said this. How does a person do that – was that part of his training as a priest? They would not allow women to take birth control and said that abstinence should be used. Abstinence is supposed to be a way of life for priests but obviously not done.

    And then of course the church says they are not responsible for this….. but they did use him to broker the other deal while at the same time knowing that he was doing the same thing.

  • Camarillo Eddiestandard2011/05/05
    at 10:24 AM ET
    “‘He had many earlier opportunities to do so,’ Stack told CBC News.”
  • This was the first day of the trial. When did he have an earlier opportunity? I suppose he was suggesting that Lahey could have entered a plea agreement, in which case that would have made news as well.

    I’m not condoning Lahey’s actions, but I’m questioning this lawyer’s.

  • lovelyNewfieGalstandard2011/05/05
    at 10:24 AM ET
    The way I see it, he will eventually have to pay for his crime….maybe not in this life…… day he HAS to meet his maker.
  • TonyKeenestandard2011/05/05
    at 10:23 AM ET
    It seems quite obvious these discoveries (or revelations) are working their way up the hierarchy.
  • First it was priests, then monsignors, now bishops and archbishops.

    How soon will we see the first cardinal charged? And if the cardinals, then…?

  • theerroriststandard2011/05/05
    at 10:20 AM ET
    the cruel irony is that this isn’t even the worst thing done in “gods” name …
  • Gander1963standard2011/05/05
    at 10:07 AM ET
    Raymond Lahey was reported to the police in St. John’s in 1989 for possession of child pornography.
  • Justice delayed is justice denied, and this man’s justice is 20 years behind schedule.


    • misstherainstandard2011/05/05
      at 10:07 AM ET
      “On the child pornography charge, Lahey faces a minimum sentence of one year in jail.”

    1 year? Really? That’s it?

    Wow – that will sure teach him………

  • UbiquitousOnestandard2011/05/05
    at 10:04 AM ET
    Bless you Father for you have sinned.
  • sugarpeistandard2011/05/05
    at 10:02 AM ET
    Lahey should go to prison for the rest of his life. It’s disgraceful what he did, destroying trust of so many people. It’s truly shameful and it’s also shameful that the hierarchy in Catholic Church have shut their eyes to all the abuse by catholic clergy.
  • UnbiasedViewstandard2011/05/05
    at 9:55 AM ET
    the actions of this man and many more like him have done irreparable damage to the catholic church who continue to downplay these incidents. the same people who are supposed to provide US with guidance and forgiveness. been to confession lately Mr. Lahey?
  • JackMawlestandard2011/05/05
    at 9:43 AM ET
    He should get 50 years.
  • Bonehillstandard2011/05/05
    at 9:37 AM ET
    It’s sick that these ppl are still roaming around. What is the church doing to stop this from happening since their lifestyle is obviously in conflict with church teachings.
  • meoldtroutstandard2011/05/05
    at 9:36 AM ET
    I have a question i will ask. Does the religious affiliation of the Judge and lawyers play a role in leancy for these priest. Should a Judge who is a devot chatholic sit over these trials. Is he influanced in his decision in anyway

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