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Appeal court upholds sentence for child pornography convictions

Retired Kenora teacher had been sentenced to 22 months after pleading guilty to multiple counts of child pornography offences
Ontario Court of Appeal

The Ontario Court of Appeal has upheld a 22-month jail sentence for a retired Kenora teacher who pleaded guilty of child pornography charges.

The appeal court released its decision on Tuesday, after hearing the case last week.

Arthur C. Rule had pleaded guilty to accessing and 3 counts of possessing child pornography in November 2019, and was sentenced to 22 months in May 2021. The court noted that he was 70 years old at the time of sentence.

The appeal attempted to overturn the original sentence, arguing the trial judge erred by "ruling out a conditional sentence and in considering the unconstitutional mandatory minimum sentence," and by failing to give meaningful weight to the appellant's health issues. The appeal instead sought to impose a conditional sentence.

The court dismissed the appeal on sentence, finding that the judge appropriately considered the appellant’s health challenges and that some of his issues at the time of sentencing have since been resolved.

"We are satisfied that having regard to the nature of the offence, the size of the collection, the duration of possession and frequency of examination of the images, it was appropriate for the sentencing judge to rule out a conditional sentence which would have been inconsistent with the fundamental purposes and principles of sentencing, despite the appellant’s health problems," the decision reads, adding that there was no evidence the medical issues could not have been treated in a custodial institution.

The decision notes that during the investigation, police categorized 22,429 images and 204 videos and determined they met the criteria of child pornography. It also cited the trial judge's decision, which described the images as “disgusting and heartbreaking”, and that the “utter defilement and destruction of these innocent lives cannot be overstated.”

The court did grant one aspect of the appeal, changing the period of being included in the national sex offender registry from lifetime to 20 years.

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