Posted: May 4, 2011 5:43 AM ET
A Roman Catholic bishop has pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography for the purposes of importation to Canada.
Raymond Lahey, former head of the diocese of Antigonish, N.S., told an Ottawa court Wednesday that he possessed and imported child pornography for personal use.
Lahey’s trial was expected to take three days, but 45 minutes after the case was supposed to begin the defence and Crown lawyers announced they had reached a deal. Lahey then pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography for the purposes of importing it to Canada. After Lahey’s lawyer said the pornography was intended only for personal use, the judge agreed to remove a charge of distributing child pornography. Court is still in session to discuss sentencing. Lahey told the judge he did not want to apply for bail, but wanted to go straight to jail.
Lahey was charged in September 2009 when he was arrested at the Ottawa airport while returning to Nova Scotia from a trip to Europe.
Border Services agents said Lahey was asked if he had any electronics as part of routine screening. He said he had two cellphones, but then hesitated. He was asked again if he had any laptops, and again he hesitated. Agents reported he would not make eye contact and they flagged him for secondary inspection.
They found Lahey’s passport revealed extensive travel to countries notorious as sources of child pornography.
Hundreds of pornographic photos, videos.
When they searched his bags, they found a computer, several memory sticks and memory cards.
A later forensic audit of the laptop found 588 graphic images of child pornography, 33 videos and pornographic stories featuring children enslaved and degraded. They also found sex toys.
Lahey initially told police he was attracted to men aged 20, but officers said a few of the boys involved in sex acts whose images were captured on Lahey’s laptop looked to be as young as eight.
A native of Newfoundland and Labrador, Lahey resigned from the Antigonish diocese the day after he was charged.
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.”
Lahey has been staying with other Ottawa priests since he was granted bail.