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Canada's Child Porn Case Ruling Set for Speedy Appeal
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News date: 02/11/99

    Canada's child porn law was dealt a blow on January 15 by a British Columbia judge when he dismissed two charges of simple possession of child pornography against John Sharpe of Vancouver. The judge's ruling struck down a portion of the law saying it violated privacy rights and as such was unconstitutional. Sharpe is, however, scheduled to be tried on the remainder of the law, March 1, dealing with possession of child pornography for the purpose of distributing the pictures.

   The ruling set off outrage across Canada as police and children's rights advocates strongly denounced the decision. Their fear is it will be more difficult to prosecute child abuse offenders under the weakened child porn law. In the meantime, a measure was introduced in Canada's Parliament, which would have given lawmakers the right to overturn the judge's ruling. When all of the parliamentary rhetoric was finished, though, the measure was defeated. However, 'it's not over 'til it's over' because the prosecutors in this case have filed for an appeal of the court ruling.

   Justice Allan McEachern, Chief Justice of the B.C. Court of Appeals in Vancouver, has set an April 26 court date to hear the prosecution's appeal. The other charges against Sharpe will be heard at a later date. Sharpe was unsuccessful in his attempts to delay the appeals trial. He wanted the appeals trial to be delayed until, "…the passions stirred up by politicians and the media have cooled down." Further, since Sharpe, age 65, is representing himself in this case, he felt the speedy appeals case was unfair and burdensome. He also complained he had been unable to find an attorney to handle his case, partially because of its controversial nature.

   Sharpe originally challenged Canada's child pornography law when he had been arrested for possession of child porn. He had pornographic images of little boys stored on computer discs as well as in books and pictures. Now, according to McEachern, there are 18 similar criminal cases that are affected by the ruling of the British Columbia judge.

-- Ernest Moore
 

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