Ian Meissner exits the Chilliwack Law Courts with supporters and his legal counsel Martin Finch on Thursday, after having all charges relating to child pornography dismissed. Jessica Peters/ The Progress

Ian Meissner exits the Chilliwack Law Courts with supporters and his legal counsel Martin Finch on Thursday, after having all charges relating to child pornography dismissed. Jessica Peters/ The Progress

All child porn charges against Chilliwack realtor dismissed

Meissner’s computers contained ‘miniscule’ amount of content normally found on offenders’ devices

There were tears of joy in the courtroom on Thursday, as all four child pornography charges against Ian Meissner were dismissed.

It took Justice Kathleen Ker almost two hours to read out the details of the case, as a dozen friends and family of Meissner’s listened patiently. And one by one, the charges were dismissed.

Meissner’s computer activity kicked off an investigation initiated by Google, when a transfer of an image thought to be child pornography was caught by their systems. That triggered an in-depth investigation into Meissner’s online activity, including seizure of all his home and work computer devices, including flash drives, external hard drives, and various computers.

RELATED STORY: Prominent realtor’s child porn trial starts in BC Supreme Court in Chilliwack

It also threw him into the criminal justice system for several years, waiting for a judge to clear his name. That time came today, and outside the courtroom, he expressed his happiness by hugging his supporters and holding back his own tears.

“Oh yes!,” he said to them. “Wow! Who haven’t I hugged yet?”

“Ian had just an enormous challenge coming into the full experience of the criminal justice system,” his lawyer Martin Finch said. “And during the full flower of his career, just through the nefarious randomness of the internet being visited upon him.”

He said the process was long and emotional for his client, and resulted in a hiatus in his professional career and potentially damaged his community standing. Meissner has been a realtor since 1992, and is the past president of the Chilliwack Rotary Club and the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board.

He graduated from Langara College in 1976 from a photo technician’s course and worked in that field until turning to real estate. The court heard that when digital photography began to boom in the late 1990s, Meissner’s first career re-bloomed as he delved back into it.

Along the way, defence said, he inadvertently downloaded a small number of images that fit the definition of child pornography. In her judgment, Ker described in detail a photo of a woman and infant girl that was explicitly sexual in nature.

However, she found that there was a reasonable doubt Meissner was ever aware of the photos in question. Typically, an offender would have “hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands” of images relating to child porn. Of the hundreds of thousands of photos on Meissner’s computers and hard drives that were of landscapes, family photos and portraits, the amount of child porn found on his computer was “minuscule.”

Also missing from Meissner’s computers was any signs of usual child porn collector behaviors. There was no evidence of visiting child porn chat rooms, the dark web or evidence of collections of child porn and hiding file names with innocuous ones.

Ker said she believes that Meissner came to possess those images unwittingly.

At the end of her decision, the judge wished Meissner well.

“Thank you Mr. Meissner,” she said as he sat listening in the prisoner box. “You’re free to leave.”

RELATED STORY: Child porn trial for prominent Chilliwack realtor set for the fall


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jpeters@theprogress.com

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