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Judge grants changes in bishop's bail conditions

Bishop Raymond Lahey arrives at a police station in Ottawa October 1, 2009. Lahey, a former Canadian bishop who oversaw the settlement of sex abuse allegations against the Roman Catholic Church, is facing child pornography charges, police said on Wednesday. REUTERS/Chris Wattie (CANADA CRIME LAW RELIGION)


Child-pornography experts with the Ottawa police are slowly working their way through all of the images on Bishop Raymond Lahey's seized computer, aiming to track down the sources of the photos and whether any of the children can be found.

The process could take months. But as the police investigation and legal case continues, the Halifax bishop will live among priests on a quiet street in a southern Ottawa neighbourhood.

As an act of "Christian charity," a former colleague who once worked closely with Bishop Lahey in Halifax has offered the clergyman a place to stay.

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Reports that Bishop Lahey would reside at a monastery in Rogersville, N.B., sparked a hostile reaction from some residents of the small community south of Miramichi.

The Archbishop of Ottawa, Terrence Prendergast, agreed to take in Bishop Lahey.

"When Bishop Raymond Lahey called our diocesan offices on Wednesday afternoon, he was facing very few - practically no - options with respect to a residence in Ottawa," Archbishop Prendergast wrote in a statement that pledges co-operation with authorities.

The Ottawa archbishop was once a top-ranked cleric in Halifax and close to Bishop Lahey. He was one of two senior clergymen who escorted Bishop Lahey to the ceremony in which he was made bishop of Antigonish in 2003. Bishop Lahey resigned the post the day after he was charged with possessing and importing child pornography.

"I am aware, of course, of the serious charges pending against Bishop Lahey," the statement continued. "I am also aware of how this matter has deeply saddened and shaken our Catholic brothers and sisters, including those of us in ordained ministry."

Bishop Lahey, 69, surrendered his passport and did not speak at a bail hearing yesterday, showing no expression as he left the courtroom wearing a black sweater vest over a white dress shirt. He is required to report to authorities every two weeks.

Bishop Lahey was returning from London on Sept. 15 when border officials at the Ottawa airport selected him for secondary screening, which included a search of his laptop.

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Detective Dan Melchiorre of the Ottawa Police's Internet child-exploitation unit told reporters yesterday that he and his colleagues can tell the difference between child porn downloaded from the Internet and a photo taken and stored on a computer.

Should police find evidence of the later, it could lead to further charges.

"If we can identify - and not just in this case, in any type of these kind of charges - that pictures were taken, well, that's another charge of the production of child pornography," Det. Melchiorre said.

"So there's other charges that can be laid, yes."

His comments in response to potential local concerns suggested no such evidence has so far been found.

"There's no charges of any sexual assault of any kind, so I can put [the neighbouring community]at ease for that at [this]point," he said.

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About the Authors
Parliamentary reporter

A member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery since 1999, Bill Curry worked for The Hill Times and the National Post prior to joining The Globe in Feb. 2005. Originally from North Bay, Ont., Bill reports on a wide range of topics on Parliament Hill, with a focus on finance. More

Oliver Moore joined the Globe and Mail's web newsroom in 2000 as an editor and then moved into reporting. A native Torontonian, he served four years as Atlantic Bureau Chief and has worked also in Afghanistan, Grenada, France, Spain and the United States. More

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