Judge allows accused bishop to stay in Ottawa
Published Friday, October 9, 2009 1:46PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 11:59PM EDT
A Roman Catholic bishop facing child pornography charges will be staying in Ottawa while his case is before the courts.
Raymond Lahey appeared briefly in court on Friday morning, to have some of his bail conditions adjusted.
A judge agreed to allow Lahey to live at the Roman Catholic Archdiocese in Ottawa until his trial begins.
Lahey was supposed to be staying in New Brunswick, but he requested the change after residents in that province complained about his presence.
Archbishop Terrence Prendergast said in a statement that the accused had limited options which is why the Archdiocese has allowed him to stay with them.
"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," he said in a prepared statement.
"In Christian charity, and believing that it was the action that the Lord would want us to take, I have accepted that he stay at our priests' residence. I thank the priests of our residence for their generous spirit in receiving him in their midst," he added.
Prendergast also said the matter has "deeply saddened and shaken" the Catholic community.
The 69-year-old handed over his passport to police and will have to report to authorities on a biweekly basis.
The next hearing in the court case is scheduled for Nov. 4.
Ottawa police Det. Dan Melchiorre said the bishop's bail conditions were strict.
"The conditions are very stringent...they are very strict conditions," he told reporters outside an Ottawa courthouse on Friday morning.
"A lot of it has to do with the Internet, computers, that sort of stuff."
He said that other conditions included restrictions on the bishop's presence "around children under the age of 18."
Melchiorre wrote a search warrant application that was used to collect evidence in the investigation involving Lahey.
Lahey turned himself in to Ottawa police earlier this month. He faces charges for allegedly importing and possessing child pornography and remains free on bail.
He was charged after Ottawa airport border agents allegedly found sexually graphic images of young boys on a laptop computer when Lahey returned to Canada from an overseas trip on Sept. 15.
The charges have not been proven in court.
Melchiorre said the decision to lay charges against the former bishop was not made lightly and took time as investigators sifted through the images to determine if a crime had taken place.
"The internet is vast and (people) may come across one image that is potentially illegal," he said. "I'm not saying that is good, but I'm saying it can happen. And it's up to us to investigate to make sure that in these cases, that there's no doubt in our mind that the issue is the charges are sustainable in court."
Until recently, Lahey was the bishop of the Diocese of Antigonish in Nova Scotia.
He stepped down from his post in late September and Ottawa police issued a warrant for his arrest days later.
Lahey previously served as a bishop in the Diocese of St. George in Newfoundland, where he worked for 18 years. He was appointed to his Nova Scotia post in 2003.
With files from The Canadian Press