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Former Carleton student pleads guilty to child-porn charges

Ottawa Citizen logo Ottawa Citizen 2019-02-22 Gary Dimmock
a man wearing glasses and looking at the camera: Facebook photo of Jason Sawyer. © Facebook, . Facebook photo of Jason Sawyer.

Jason Sawyer, a 21-year-old former Carleton University student, sat outside Courtroom No. 12 on Thursday reading a book next to his mom, who was also reading a paperback. They had time to kill because court was running late. The tall and bearded Sawyer is a criminology student, but his 9 a.m. appointment in court had nothing to do with his studies.

Sawyer was there to plead guilty to a most vile crime — child porn. The disgraced student, wearing a black tuque, stood before Ontario Court Justice Matthew Webber and pleaded guilty to possession of child porn.

Sawyer was one of six Ottawa men charged in late December when police across Ontario did a sweep and laid 551 charges in one month. It’s just the tip of the iceberg, police said at the time.

Sawyer admitted guilt right away and directed police to more images on his phone. In November 2018, Ottawa police raided his home and seized the student’s laptop and external hard drive. In all, police found 14,599 images of child-sex crimes and 2,296 videos.

In disturbing online chats with undercover police in Switzerland, Sawyer said he was sexually attracted to children. Swiss police knew he had child porn because they downloaded it from his online server. The tip was forwarded to police in Ontario and Ottawa’s ICE unit mounted a successful case with a full and clean confession from Sawyer, who has already begun treatment.

“Mr. Sawyer is very remorseful for his actions. He has begun treatment and is committed to ensuring that he never comes before the criminal courts again,” said Joseph Addelman, his defence lawyer.

Sawyer is out on bail awaiting sentencing. Before that happens, he has to have a sex-behaviour assessment and a pre-sentence report, which is drafted by a probation officer who interviews people in the child-sex criminal’s life.

Webber told Sawyer it’s important to fully co-operate in the assessments so he can learn as much about him as he can before he passes a sentence to what he called a serious crime.

The case against Sawyer was led by Assistant Crown Attorney Carl Lem, who read out an agreed statement of facts in court. Sawyer is no longer studying at Carleton and remains out on bail under conditions that have him living with his mom in St. Thomas, Ont.

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gdimmock@postmedia.com

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