Bishop pleads guilty to one child-porn charge

OTTAWA — A Roman Catholic bishop who was caught with pornographic photos, videos and stories involving boys pleaded guilty Wednesday to importing child pornography.

OTTAWA — A Roman Catholic bishop who was caught with pornographic photos, videos and stories involving boys pleaded guilty Wednesday to importing child pornography.

Raymond Lahey, the 70-year-old former head of the diocese in Antigonish, N.S., stunned the courtroom by waiving his bail and asking to begin serving time immediately, even before a formal sentence. He was taken into custody.

“He’s giving up his right to bail,” defence lawyer Michael Edelson told court. “He wants to be in jail as of today’s date.”

Edelson also told the court his client feels profound remorse for his crime.

Lahey pleaded guilty to a single child pornography charge, “possession for the purposes of importation.” A second charge of simple possession remains, but it is expected to be formally withdrawn as part of Lahey’s plea deal when he is sentenced later.

Edelson said Lahey wanted to start serving time now in order to get credit after sentencing.

The lawyer told the court that Lahey was not guilty of possession of child pornography for the purpose of distribution.

The grey-haired cleric spoke only once during the proceedings, uttering the words “guilty, your honour,” when he was arraigned on the amended charge.

Lahey and his lawyers had to run a gauntlet of cameras to enter the Ottawa courthouse. He cut a solitary figure, crammed on the end of a courtroom bench for almost an hour before proceedings started, while lawyers hammered out the final details of his plea deal.

Later, he sat impassively next to his lawyers as the details of the violent pornographic images that were found in his possession were read out in a crammed courtroom.

Court heard that Lahey had 588 images of child pornography on his laptop and handheld device. He also had videos and text stories of child pornography.

The exhibits were ordered sealed by Justice Jack Kirkland, but an agreed statement of facts read in court categorized the themes of the images that depicted pre-pubescent boys in sex acts. The categories included humiliation, torture and degradation.

The judge and lawyers reviewed the images privately on a police detective’s laptop in the witness box before the judge had them sealed.

Lahey was charged in September 2009 after border agents searched his laptop at Ottawa International Airport. He was freed on $9,000 bail in October 2009.

Lahey became nervous when a border agent asked him if he had a laptop and ordered a secondary inspection.

He was returning from a trip to London, and his passport contained stamps for Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Germany.

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