'Will haunt me for the rest of my life': Former Sudbury reporter sentenced
A former Sudbury reporter who pleaded guilty to one count of the indecent act of making online child sexual abuse material available to the public learned his fate in a sentencing hearing Thursday morning.
In a virtual court hearing, Callam Senyk-O'Flanagan, known professionally as Callam Rodya, was been handed a nine-month conditional sentence that involves electronic monitoring. The first four and a half months will be served under house arrest and during the remaining time, a curfew of 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. has been imposed as part of a joint-sentencing submission recommended by the Crown and defense and accepted by Justice Pierre Bradley. This will be followed by one year of probation.
The 35-year-old man's sentence has several conditions, including submitting a DNA sample, restrictions around internet and electronic device access, as well as not being around or communicating with children under the age of 16 unless accompanied by another adult or approved in advance in writing.
The case against him
Greater Sudbury Police Service launched an investigation Nov. 15, 2018, after finding a disturbing video depicting violent child sexual abuse had been uploaded to a file-sharing service through an electronic device linked to Senyk-O'Flanagan. The video involved a child estimated to be between 10 and 12 years old from the U.S.
He was originally charged with several counts of possession of, accessing, and making available child pornography on Feb. 13, 2019, following a raid on his Riverside Drive apartment. All but one of those charges have been withdrawn by the Crown. In an agreed statement of facts in the case, police found a total of 464 items considered to be child sexual abuse material among four of Senyk-O'Flanagan's electronic devices.
As part of his plea of guilt in a court hearing Nov. 9, he admitted to having graphic child pornography in a folder on his devices accessible to the public.
He has been out on bail since his arrest more than two years ago and has been living with his parents in southern Ontario, where he will remain.
Police mistakes led to more lenient punishment
Michael Lacy, who is known for having child pornography charges against a Sudbury doctor thrown out, served as Senyk-O'Flanagan's lawyer.
During sentencing, Lacy told the court that his client was not engaged in active distribution, trading or luring in connection with the child sexual abuse material found but rather was uploaded as part of a default file sharing service setting.
The defence lawyer also told the court that troubling police conduct in the case involving charter rights could have put the case in jeopardy, but his client chose to accept responsibility and pleaded guilty on one of the lesser charges.
"The Crown is agreeing to a lesser offence in this case as well as a lower sentence that an offence of this type would normally attract as there were significant triable issues in this case," assistant Crown attorney Christina Croteau said, adding the Crown takes the offence very seriously.
"Mr. Senyk-O'Flanagan was not brought to bail court within 24 hours of his arrest," Croteau said. "There was also an issue that would have been an issue at trial for the Crown with the right to counsel, whereby he was briefly questioned after being advised of his right to counsel but before he was able to exercise that right."
Those issues have been addressed with the officers in question for future investigations, Croteau said, but they have impacted both the plea and the sentencing positions the Crown is taking in this case.
'Not a slap on the wrist'
During sentencing Senyk-O'Flanagan expressed his remorse and said he "allowed curiosity to take over and corrupt his moral integrity," but he now realizes how his actions victimize others and he is truly sorry for that.
Senyk-O'Flanagan has shaved his head and was wearing a blue suit with a white shirt, gold tie, and pocket square for the hearing. He spoke directly to the court via video.
"I let you all down. I threw away everything I cared about and that's something that will haunt me for the rest of my life and something that I do hope I'll be able to make amends for," he said.
"One of the ways that I've tried to do that is by pleading guilty to this offence."
Lacy detailed the fallout following the charges against his client, which include being publicly embarrassed and shamed, losing his dream job in broadcasting, the end of his marriage, and having a criminal record that will affect employability and travel, saying the sentence is "not a slap on the wrist."
Senyk-O'Flanagan told the court he has been seeing a psychotherapist since shortly after his arrest, who has diagnosed him with bipolar and substance abuse disorders for which he is taking prescribed medication with a positive result. While it doesn’t excuse his behaviour, he said his medical and psychological conditions offer some context for it. He also said he has gained tools to help him avoid this type of behaviour in the future.
Bradley said Senyk-O'Flanagan’s behaviour showed disregard for the extreme harm done to victims.
"The accused has encouraged violence that not only includes physical injury, but also severe psychological harm to children that are involved in the dark world of child pornography. Usually adults that participate in such activities are doing so to fulfill their own sexual gratification at the expense and disregard for the suffering that these children are experiencing," Bradley said.
Senyk-O'Flanagan is a former reporter with Sudbury.com and CTV Northern Ontario.