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Sentencing begins for Chilliwack church pastor guilty of accessing of child pornography

John Vermeer facing a minimum of six months jail, no more than two years
Former Main Street Church executive pastor John Vermeer was found guilty of accessing and possessing child pornography in Chilliwack provincial court on April 30, 2021. (File) Former Main Street Church executive pastor John Vermeer’s child pornography trial ended last week with a decision set for April 14.)

A two-day sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin in Chilliwack provincial court Wednesday (Sept. 1) morning for the former executive pastor of Main Street Church found guilty of accessing and possessing child pornography.

John (Johannes) Vermeer was found guilty of the four counts he faced on April 30: two each of possession of child pornography and accessing child pornography for dates in 2015 and 2010.

“I find the Crown establishes evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Vermeer searched for, downloaded and sometimes opened the child porn,” Judge Andrea Ormiston said in handing down judgment.

“The volume of child porn Mr. Vermeer collected is substantial and longstanding.”

READ MORE: Chilliwack church pastor found guilty of accessing of child pornography

There was never any dispute that dozens of images of child porn were found on Vermeer’s personal laptop and his church office desktop computer. The issue in the circumstantial case was whether there was a reasonable doubt as to how the images got on his computers.

As a computer expert himself, the 61-year-old Vermeer’s defence amounted to various speculative suggestions that the porn could have been put on the computers remotely by a hacker, maybe a virus or malware, or maybe someone else at the church used his computer.

Ormiston found that Vermeer’s testimony was rife with inconsistencies that damaged his credibility as a witness.

“I do not believe Mr. Vermeer.”

The trial began on July 22, 2019 but was delayed a number of times from the start, in part due to disclosure of computer logs and a missing external hard drive.

Vermeer had served as executive pastor – an administrative role – for the church since 2009 until the charges were laid.

It’s unclear if Crown counsel will be seeking jail time, but the Criminal Code minimum sentence is six months jail for both offences on summary conviction, and a maximum of two years less a day.

READ MORE: Chilliwack church pastor child porn trial faces multi-month delay

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