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Canadian bishop gets 15 months in child porn case

A Canadian Roman Catholic bishop who pleaded guilty to importing child pornography has been sentenced to 15 months in jail, but he should be released today with credit for time served.
Raymond Lahey
Roman Catholic Bishop Raymond Lahey, right, arrives at the Ottawa Court House in Ottawa, Canada, Wednesday, May 4, 2011. Lahey, who pleaded guilty in May to importing child pornography, was sentenced Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012 to 15 months in jail, but he should be released the same day with credit for time served. Sean Kilpatrick / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A Canadian Roman Catholic bishop who admitted he was addicted to looking at child pornography has been sentenced to 15 months in jail, but he should be released Wednesday with credit for time served.

Bishop Raymond Lahey was arrested at the Ottawa airport in 2009 after customs authorities found almost 600 pornographic photos of young teen boys on his laptop and a handheld device.

Some of the porn involved adolescent boys engaged in sex acts while wearing a crucifix and rosary beads.

The case was especially shocking to Canadians because Lahey had overseen a multimillion-dollar settlement for clerical sexual abuse victims in his diocese before he was charged.

Lahey pleaded guilty last May to one count of importing child pornography and voluntarily went to jail to begin serving time before his formal sentencing.

Ontario Court Justice Kent Kirkland on Wednesday gave Lahey two-for-one credit for the time he served. Double credit is not unusual.

Lahey will have to submit a DNA sample and register as a sex offender. He also will have to allow searches of his personal and office computers when required by the authorities.

Defense lawyer Michael Edelson called it "exactly the right sentence." Edelson said Lahey's career in the church is over. He said Lahey wrote a letter to the Vatican last year asking to be defrocked but hasn't heard back yet.

After Lahey pleaded guilty, the Vatican said the church would impose its own disciplinary measures against him but did not elaborate.

Prelates who sexually abuse minors can be defrocked. Lesser punishments include being forbidden from celebrating Mass publicly.

Edelson said Lahey has been in solitary confinement and the conditions have been dismal.

"He's lost about 30 pounds (13 kilograms). He has a very severe skin condition now that he didn't have when he went in. It's been a very difficult period, and that's one of the reasons there is a two-for-one credit," Edelson said.

At a sentencing hearing last month, Lahey offered an apology to his church and to victims of child pornography. He said his addiction to internet porn went against his moral principles.

Lahey resigned as head of the Catholic diocese of Antigonish in Nova Scotia just before the charges became public.