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Ex-teacher sentenced to 90 days for child-porn possession
A White Rock man who was charged with possessing child pornography nine years ago and deemed a low risk to reoffend was sentenced this week to 90 days in jail for repeating the crime.
Before learning his penalty, George Heinz Kraus told the court he realized the gravity of his second offence when he learned that the Toronto company he had bought movies from was the subject of a police investigation into child pornography; that it was not a victimless crime.
"That's where it hit me," Kraus told Surrey Provincial Court Judge Ellen Gordon Wednesday afternoon. "The fact I was paying money to these people, it hit me very hard."
Kraus, 69, pleaded guilty last December to one count of possessing child pornography. The plea came less than three weeks before he was scheduled to be tried on charges of possessing and accessing the material. The latter charge was stayed.
Both charges arose after officers with the Integrated Child Exploitation Unit executed a search warrant on a White Rock home following a tip “suggesting (Kraus) was in possession of child-pornography material,” Staff Sgt. Bev Csikos told Peace Arch News in February 2013.
This week, the court heard that Kraus's name was found on invoices at the Toronto office. Based on that information and viewing of the movies he was noted to have purchased, police searched his White Rock condo. Sixty-five videos were seized; of four that caught their attention, two were deemed to be "consistent with" the Criminal Code definition of child pornography, and two were deemed to meet the definition of child pornography.
Crown Bev Lane told Gordon that other movies in the cache featured child nudity, "but they didn't rise to the level of child pornography."
In arguing for a six-month jail term, Lane described questionable scenes from the four movies at the centre of Wednesday's proceedings. They ranged from young boys playfully tearing off each others' underwear and the camera focusing on their genitals, to a boy aged 10 to 12 years old shown looking at a naked woman and masturbating.
She noted the films are "sort of at the low end" of what the court typically sees in child-pornography cases – "nobody's being tortured," she said.
The most aggravating factor in the case against Kraus, she said, is his prior history. The former elementary school teacher was arrested in March 2005 following the discovery of some 27,000 images on two home computers.
"He already went through some programming and still finds himself back before the court today," she said, noting he has since been deemed a moderate risk to reoffend.
In arguing for a lighter sentence, defence counsel Michael Bolton noted that two of the four movies in question received film-festival awards in various categories, including one for best actress.
"If we were only facing a charge with regard to this particular movie, we'd be facing a trial," Bolton said. "It's very tastefully done. I'm sure the child actor was paid very well."
The two are "borderline, at the very best," in terms of being child pornography, he said.
Kraus pleaded guilty because of the other two films, Bolton told Gordon.
Bolton said Kraus believed at the time that he was buying the movies legally.
In pronouncing sentence, Gordon cited that belief, along with the fact there is no evidence Kraus wanted or intended to take his enjoyment of the movies beyond that of a passive observer.
Kraus "was apparently of the view so long as what he purchased was commercially available, that that could not be a crime," she said.
While such films may have been lauded as award-worthy decades ago, society has come to realize "that (films) portraying children… engaged in sexual activity are harmful to children, whether they are films made in someone's basement or films made for commercial use," the judge said.
Gordon agreed with Bolton that an intermittent sentence is appropriate.
Kraus will serve his 90 days on weekends only, starting this Friday.
She also gave him three years' probation, ordered him to submit a DNA sample and that his name be added to the Sex Offender Registry for 10 years.