Canadian bishop pleads guilty to possessing child pornography

Catholic News Service reports:

OTTAWA, Ontario (CNS) -- The former bishop of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, has pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography.

Bishop Raymond Lahey pleaded to the charge of possession "for the purposes of importation child pornography in the form of graphic computer images." However, he told the judge he was not guilty of possession with the intent to distribute.

His May 4 plea was in response to his arrest at the Ottawa airport Sept. 15, 2009. Court documents had stated that the bishop's evasive behavior, coupled with a passport stamped with exotic locations known for child pornography, prompted a Canadian Border Services agent to examine the contents of his laptop.

The bishop resigned his post in Antigonish later that month and has been living at a priests' residence in Ottawa.

Bishop Lahey waived bail and was taken into custody. Media reported his lawyer said the bishop wanted to begin serving his time, even though his sentencing hearing had not been set.

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The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement after the court hearing condemning "all forms of sexual exploitation, especially involving minors." It said the conference would "continue to work to prevent such behavior and to bring healing to the victims and their families."

"Recognizing the confusion and anger that this case has engendered among many of the faithful, we underscore our pastoral concern for those who have experienced great pain as a result of these events," the bishops said. "In a special way our thoughts and prayers are with the people of the Diocese of Antigonish and all the Atlantic region."

The Vatican Press Office released the following statement. This is the full text:

Following the plea of guilty of the Most Reverend Raymond Lahey, former Bishop of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, the following statement has been issued by the Holy See Press Office:

The Most Reverend Raymond Lahey, former Bishop of Antigonish, has pled guilty to possession of child pornography.

The Catholic Church condemns sexual exploitation in all its forms, especially when perpetrated against minors.

Although the civil process has run its course, the Holy See will continue to follow the canonical procedures in effect for such cases, which will result in the imposition of the appropriate disciplinary or penal measures.


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