A Canadian Bishop accused of child pornography possession apologized in court Tuesday, saying his “powerful addiction” to child pornography goes against his “moral principles.”
Canadian Bishop Raymond Lahey is to be sentenced on Jan. 4 for one count of importing child pornography. He was initially to be sentenced on one count of simple possession, but this is expected to be waived as part of the plea agreement.
Lahey apologized Tuesday, telling the court he is “truly sorry for what I have done.”
“I have always believed that people should take full responsibility for their actions, and I certainly want to take full responsibility for my own,” the bishop of Antigonish Diocese, Nova Scotia told the court.
“I know that I’ve done wrong,” he added, saying that his possession of child pornography goes against his moral principles. “I have come to recognize that I became addicted to Internet pornography on a very indiscriminate basis.”
Lahey’s collection of 600 child pornographic images was discovered by airport officials in 2009 while Lahey’s laptop and handheld device went through Ontario airport security.
The images reportedly contained Catholic imagery, including young teenage boys holding crucifixes and rosaries while engaging in sexual acts.
“This was an addiction powerful enough that despite my own distaste for it and my own internal convulsions I could not break it,” the 71-year-old cleric said.
Lahey proceeded to tell the court that he secretly wanted to get caught to break his cycle of addiction, because it is “ultimately unhealthy” and harmful to children.
Ontario Court Justice Kent Kirkland ruled Tuesday that Lahey will receive double credit for the time he has already served in prison since he waived bail last May and requested to begin serving time immediately.
The Vatican previously announced it would impose its own disciplinary measures against Lahey, but has yet to do so.
“The Catholic Church condemns sexual exploitation in all its forms, especially when perpetrated against minors,” the Vatican press office said in a statement in May.
“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,” it added.