8 Nov 2010

U.S. 'missionary' jailed in Canada for trafficking massive amounts of child pornography

Winnipeg Free Press - Canwest News Service October 3, 2009

Missionary busted in Winnipeg with massive child porn cache

By Mike McIntyre | Winnipeg Free Press

WINNIPEG — A U.S. missionary who has travelled the world teaching religion to youth has been handed one of the longest child pornography sentences in Manitoba history.

Ronald William White received a 20-month penalty on Friday after pleading guilty to importing nearly 5,000 disturbing images into Canada — and after claiming some of the images in his collection would be accepted by more cosmopolitan Europeans.

"The images were graphic and disturbing. Some of the pictures are of babies, some of them in apparent distress," said provincial court Judge Michel Chartier.

White, 25, was arrested on Valentine's Day at the James Richardson International Airport in Winnipeg. The Virginia resident had flown to Winnipeg to hook up with a woman he'd met online, court was told.

Border officials were suspicious of White because he arrived with no return ticket. They asked to search his laptop computer and found evidence of child pornography.

Winnipeg police took over the investigation, obtained a warrant and found an "overwhelming" collection, said Crown attorney Terry McComb.

The nearly 5,000 illegal images were mostly of boys, aged five and younger. At least one was of a newborn toddler with his umbilical cord still showing, court was told.

Police also found more than 10,000 images depicting child nudity that didn't fall inside the reach of Canada's Criminal Code. White admitted to taking some of those pictures himself in the homes of families he'd visited in 11 countries over the past five years. White also had 19,000 other pictures of fully-clothed children.

White, who has a degree in theology, later told justice officials that many of the pictures he had would be acceptable in "liberalized" Europe.

He claims he amassed his entire collection in just two months.

White has spent seven months in pre-trial custody at Headingley Jail, which was given double-time credit of 14 months. He was seeking to be released immediately with a sentence of time served.

Chartier said further punishment was needed based on the disturbing facts of the case.

White will be deported and placed in the custody of American justice officials after he finishes serving the remaining six months of his sentence. He will be greeted in the U.S. by three felony counts of possession of child pornography seized from his home. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence there of three years behind bars if convicted.

Defence lawyer Ted Mariash told court his client is ashamed and remorseful over what he has done. White has no prior criminal record and has done plenty of good during his religious world travels, he said.

White faced a mandatory year of jail based on his guilty plea under recently amended child pornography legislation. It was only a few years ago that offenders were receiving fines, probation and suspended sentences for this type of crime.

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CBC News - Manitoba September 9, 2009

U.S. 'missionary' faces Winnipeg jail time for child porn

A U.S. man described in court by prosecutors as an international religious missionary is facing 20 months in a Manitoba jail for bringing an "overwhelming" amount of child pornography into Canada.

Ronald William White, 25, has already pleaded guilty to a single charge of importing the illegal material.

He has been in jail since his arrest on Feb.14 and appeared before provincial court Judge Michel Chartier on Wednesday for a sentencing hearing. Chartier reserved his decision until later this month.

White was arrested at the James Richardson International airport in Winnipeg, having flown from his hometown of Stafford, Virg.

Crown attorney Terry McComb told court border guards became suspicious of White because he had no return ticket.

White said he was coming to Winnipeg to meet for the first time a woman he had met on the Internet.

A cursory look at his belongings revealed evidence White had child pornography on his laptop, and Winnipeg police were called to investigate further, McComb said.

McComb said a full search of his laptop and a memory stick revealed "an overwhelming" amount of child pornography and other suggestive material.

Nearly 5,000 images of child pornography, depicting young boys and in some instances, infants in a range of sexual poses were seized.

Police also discovered more than 10,000 images depicting child nudity that didn't fall inside the reach of Canada's Criminal Code.

Some of the nude, but not criminally pornographic, images were "images [White] had taken with the boys in their homes with their families," McComb said, adding he had visited 11 countries in less than five years.

When police asked him if it was possible he knew any of the boys in the pictures, McComb said he told them, "I guess it depends on interpretation."

Investigators got in touch with White's mother, who told police he was "a missionary" who travelled the world teaching religion to children. His Winnipeg girlfriend also confirmed this, McComb said.

The Crown asked Chartier to keep White locked up at the Headingley Correctional Centre for another eight months to force him into a sex-offender treatment program.

White will be deported and placed in the custody of U.S. authorities after he finishes serving his sentence. Warrants are outstanding there for three felony counts of possession of child pornography seized from his home.

"Canada … has a responsibility to ensure he's returned treated and deterred," McComb said.
Restraint urged: defence

Lawyer Ted Mariash said White "feels ashamed" of what's happened, and urged Chartier to use restraint when sentencing him. White has been in maximum-security segregation for his own protection while on remand waiting to deal with the charge.

"Every one of these days [in jail], in his own words, has been a living hell to him," Mariash said in asking for a sentence of time served.

There was no dispute that White will receive double-time credit for the more than six months he's already been in jail.

Mariash said it would be unfair for the courts to hand him more jail time, when other child pornography offenders receive lesser sentences simply because they're Canadian and have greater access to local resources to prepare to defend themselves in court.

White had applied for bail in March, but abruptly cancelled the hearing just prior to prosecutors showing a judge evidence of what was discovered on his computer equipment.

Mariash drew a comparison to the sentencing of former Winnipeg Blue Bombers president Dr. Ross Brown, who was handed 45 days in jail last week for possession of nearly 5,000 images of child pornography.

The Crown told court an administrative bungle forced justice officials to strike a deal with Brown.

The prosecutor said Brown likely had a strong argument that his Charter of Rights and Freedoms had been violated by a nearly three-year delay in disclosing evidence and getting the case ready for court.

In White's case, he's being persecuted because he's an American with no ties to the local community, Mariash said.

"The only thing that separates Mr. White from Mr. Brown is that Mr. White brought his images on a plane to Canada," he said.
No apology

White addressed the court to correct what he said were a number of mistakes made during the hearing.

"Accuracy is important to me," the heavy-set White said with a slight southern drawl.

White said he never has been employed as a missionary, and took issue with McComb saying he had once been employed in Sweden looking after children.

"I have never, in any way, acted as a nanny … I have never been a nanny anywhere," White said.

He also said the Crown's suggestion he has no remorse is completely wrong, saying he told a probation officer he's been "overcome with regret."

"But I refused to say that I'm sorry … that sounds disingenuous and pathetic," White said.

"I'm not going to say I'm sorry as if it makes it all better," he added.

By the numbers: images police seized from White's computer:

4,315 child pornography images already known to law-enforcement.
596 child pornography images not yet categorized.
9,559 'child nudity' images not deemed illegal under the Criminal Code but known to police.
1,173 child nudity images not deemed illegal but unknown to police.
1,550 images of adult pornography.
About 19,000 legal images of children that police classified as "child: other".

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