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OPP sergeant sentenced on child porn charge

Mark Maltais, a 47-year-old OPP identification sergeant, sentenced to six months in jail on possession of child pornography.
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Mark Maltais

THUNDER BAY – A nearly two-decade veteran of the provincial police force will spend six months behind bars after being discovered with more than 250 images and two dozen videos of child pornography.

Mark Maltais, an OPP identification sergeant with the forensic identification services unit, was sentenced at the Thunder Bay Courthouse on Friday after previously pleading guilty to one count of possession of child pornography.

Ontario Court Justice Gregory Regis, presiding over the videoconference hearing from Oshawa, said investigators had discovered a collection of 265 images and 28 videos of child pornography, the bulk of which were on a flash drive.

“He was a police officer who knew consuming child pornography was illegal,” Regis said, describing Maltais as an “experienced investigator.”

Regis said Maltais had been involved in child pornography for more than five years and the material included children sexually assaulting other children, children engaged in sexual acts with adults and young children that appeared to be pre-pubescent.

Maltais used “deliberate and sophisticated” measures to conceal his online activities including encryption and multiple proxy servers, according to the judge.

The 47-year-old was arrested and charged in January 2016 after an investigation conducted by the Thunder Bay Police Service’s cyber crimes unit.

Crown prosecutor Julie Lefebvre, from Sudbury, had sought a six-month custodial sentence with a probationary period of between two to three years.

Defence lawyer Gil Labine had previously argued that the 90-day mandatory minimum sentence would be grossly disproportionate to the nature of the offence and would be unconstitutional.

The court had heard testimony from two psychiatrists that Maltais was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his occupation as a police officer. The psychiatrists testified a period of incarceration would result in Maltais likely being placed in isolation due to his background as a police officer and would have a negative impact on his treatment.

Labine attempted to argue the minimum sentence would constitute cruel and unusual punishment and Maltais should avoid jail time.

Regis said the suggestion that Maltais had a lower level of culpability was “preposterous” and that he knew what he was doing was not only illegal but breached his sworn duty as an officer.

Child pornography offences are linked to the sexual exploitation of children, Regis added.

In addition to the six months in jail, Maltais will be under probation for two years that includes undergoing court ordered counselling and abstaining from using computers or any device with internet capabilities except for work purposes that can be monitored by the employer.

Other orders include a five-year not period where Maltais can’t attend a public park or public swimming area where youth under the age of 16 would be expected to be present, seek employment or volunteer in any capacity that would involve being in a position of trust over youth under the age of 16 or using a computer system to communicate with youth under the age of 16. He must also submit a DNA sample and comply with the sex offender registry for 10 years.

Maltais, who joined the OPP in 1998, is currently suspended and will be subject to a Police Services Act hearing for discreditable conduct.

Regis recommended the sentence be served at the St. Lawrence Valley Correctional and Treatment Centre in Brockville.