Disgraced Bishop Lahey to Be Released on Probation

Toronto Star
January 4, 2012

Disgraced Roman Catholic Bishop Raymond Lahey was sentenced to 15 months in jail, but released on probation because of time already served.

OTTAWA—A disgraced Roman Catholic bishop who got caught with hundreds of pornographic photos of young boys walked out of an Ottawa courthouse on Wednesday after being sentenced to 15 months in jail and two years probation.

Because Ontario Court Justice Kent Kirkland gave Raymond Lahey double credit for the eight months he has served since last spring, the cleric has finished his jail sentence and was released on probation.

Lahey, 71, didn't say a word to the throng of journalists waiting for him as he left the courthouse, got into a waiting car and was driven away by an unidentified woman.

Kirkland also imposed a series of stringent probation rules.

Among other things, Lahey had to submit a DNA sample and register as a sex offender. He will also have to allow searches of his personal and office computers by the authorities.

Lahey has also been ordered to keep away from swimming pools, daycares and schools.

"The most difficult task for a judge in determining an appropriate sentence is the balancing of the fundamental principles . . . while at the same time infusing the nature and character of the offender," Kirkland said.

"This task is particularly onerous here. On one hand, the sexual exploitation of children is an offence that cries out for significant reprisal.

"On the other hand, the personal circumstances of this offender, who accepts responsibility for his wayward conduct, defies the urgency of incarceration."

Lahey pleaded guilty last May to one count of importing child pornography and voluntarily went to jail.

He was arrested at the Ottawa airport in September 2009 after customs authorities found hundreds of pornographic photos of young boys on his laptop and a handheld device.

Of the 155,000 pornographic images found on Lahey's laptop and handheld device, 588 photos and 63 videos were of young boys engaged in various sexual acts, including some involving bondage and torture.

A psychiatrist told the court the bishop is not a pedophile.

At a sentencing hearing last month, Lahey offered an apology to his church and to victims of child pornography.

When he was arrested, he was bishop of Antigonish, N.S. and chancellor of St. Francis Xavier University there. He had been actively involved in the settlement of a $15 million, class-action lawsuit brought by former child sexual abuse victims in the Antigonish diocese.

Lahey's lawyer, Michael Edelson, said the bishop's church career is over. Lahey contacted the Vatican a year ago about resigning, but he has not yet received a response.


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