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Man sentenced for child porn, sexual interference

John David Cornell sentenced to two years less a day after pleading guilty to two child pornography charges as well as sexual interference of an individual under 16 years old.
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THUNDER BAY – A local man will spend the next two years behind bars after pleading guilty to a pair of child pornography offences as well as having a sexual relationship with a minor that became illegal when the age of consent was changed from 14 to 16.

John David Cornell, 51, on Thursday at the Thunder Bay Courthouse pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography, possession of child pornography for the purposes of distribution and sexual interference.

Superior Court Justice Danial Newton, accepting a joint submission from the Crown and defence, sentenced Cornell to two years less a day in jail followed by a three-year probation period.

Crown prosecutor Rob Kozak told the court there was a “very extensive collection” of 2,979 videos and 12,661 images of child pornography “preserved in a very organized manner” found during forensic examination of a computer and multiple external storage devices seized by Thunder Bay Police Service officers on April 21, 2015.

Kozak, reading from an agreed statement of facts, said child pornography files were uploaded to two Twitter accounts on Oct. 22, 2014 and again on Nov. 19, 2014 from an IP address registered to Cornell. The subsequent investigation conducted by the police’s cybercrime unit determined the two email addresses used to upload the child pornography were connected to the computer, which also had an exact duplicate of the material.

The prosecutor said society has recognized child pornography offences are “an evil that needs to be dealt with appropriately” with possession of the illicit material perpetuating a market that victimizes the most vulnerable.

That examination of the computer and storage devices found nude images and videos of a female who was determined to be under the age of 18. The resulting investigation determined there had been a history of sexual activity between Cornell and the female.

The seven-year sexual relationship began when the complainant was 14, which was initially lawful. However, when amendments to the Criminal Code in 2008 raised the age of consent to 16 the relationship became unlawful until she reached that age in December 2009.

Kozak said the complainant did not approach police and only became involved when officers found and contacted her.

Defence lawyer David Bruzzesse said he’d never had the situation where a change to the law promptly made a relationship illegal and called the situation “very unusual.”

Bruzzesse told the court Cornell has been undergoing one-on-one counselling with a psychiatrist since June 2015. The lawyer also said Cornell has experienced negative personal impacts such as having his son change his last name and having not seen him since the charges were first publicly announced.

He argued Cornell has followed the conditions set up by the court upon his conditional release nearly two years ago. After factoring in that pre-sentence time, the period of incarceration and following probation, Bruzzesse said Cornell would be under community supervision for a total of seven years.

Kozak said the joint submission of the two years less a day incarceration would best serve the public interest because it allowed the court to impose a subsequent period of probation, which could not be done with a longer sentence.

When reading his reasons for accepting the sentence, Newton cited a report from the psychiatrist who deemed Cornell a low-risk to sexually reoffend with that likelihood “significantly reduced” by the impact on his personal relationships.

The judge also noted the “consequences of sexual interference of a young person are profound and often lifelong” after Kozak earlier said the complainant has since reached a troubled point in her life. A victim impact statement was not submitted to the court.

Cornell is also subject to a DNA order and must comply with the sex offender registry for life. During his probation, he must keep peace and good behaviour, participate in required counselling and programming, abstain contact with the complainant, not attend any public park, swimming area, daycare or school where minors are or could be expected to be present and not have any unsupervised contact with anybody under the age of 16.

Kozak declined to seek an extended internet prohibition due to its prevalence in day-to-day life, instead requesting an order for Cornell to not participate in online chat rooms.

Other charges of publishing child pornography as well as sexual assault and sexual touching were withdrawn.



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