Warning: This article contains disturbing details of child pornography.
A Canadian military combat veteran who pleaded guilty to one count of child pornography was sentenced to 18 months of house arrest by a Greater Victoria judge last week.
While deployed, the 60-year-old man – whose name is not published to protect the identity of the victim – conspired with his common-law partner to sexually abuse her five-year-old son. With his encouragement, the child’s mother – who also faces charges – sent the accused sexually explicit photos of her son, promoting a physically sexual relationship between the man and her child.
Along with the photos, the couple discussed “in detail” how they would like to sexually exploit the child in the future. At some point in their text conversations, the man encouraged her to seek out young children in the neighbourhood that they could also victimize.
Eight months later the five-year-old victim’s father reported the crime after finding images and text messages of the sexually explicit exchanges on an iPad he shared with his son’s mother. The child’s father called police, who found more than 840 images of child pornography on the accused’s laptop, iPad and a thumb drive.
Court documents say there is no evidence that the accused ever touched or acted on the ideation expressed in the messages between the pair.
In his sentencing decision on July 21, a provincial court judge noted the extensive military career of the accused, noting that he served 33 years and was deployed to seven different combat tours before retiring in 2013. The accused attained the rank of chief warrant officer.
“Regrettably, during his time with the Canadian military, the accused suffered an acute level of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” the judge wrote. “Perhaps even more regrettably this disorder was never properly diagnosed until well after these charges had surfaced and he found himself before the courts.”
The judge said a thorough assessment of the accused made it clear that his deviant behaviour could be attributed to post-traumatic stress disorder.
“[The accused] has no prior criminal history and has served his country diligently and with pride for over 30 years,” the judge wrote. “It is a well-known symptom that those who suffer from PTSD often turn to dangerous and risk-seeking behaviours to combat the awful symptoms they suffer from the PTSD.
“I am satisfied that the accused here was seeking out this risky and deplorable sexualized behaviour to deal with his symptoms.”
The judge listed the man’s extensive collection of “organized and replicated” pornography as an aggravating factor, along with the breach of trust involved in the exploitation of the child. The child, he noted, may never know what happened, but has likely lost any “meaningful relationship with his own mother.”
“There is no doubt that this atrocious behaviour had real world victims in the guise of his father, who discovered this deplorable behaviour,” the judge wrote.
The man was sentenced to an 18-month conditional sentence followed by two years of probation and 20 years on the sex offender registry.