Former Main Street Church executive pastor John Vermeer’s trial for child pornography started July 23, 2019 has been beset by delays, but continued on March 4, 2020.

Chilliwack church pastor child porn trial hears from RCMP computer expert

‘Viruses are the result of the child pornography and viewing as opposed to the other way around’

The question of whether or not a computer virus can be used to download child pornography onto someone’s computer came up Wednesday in the long, drawn-out trial of a Chilliwack church pastor.

John (Johannes) Vermeer’s first court appearance of child porn charges from alleged images and videos found on computers at Main Street Church was on March 29, 2018.

His trial – which has been beset by delays – continued on March 4, 2020. On the witness stand that day, and on the last court date on Feb. 25 was RCMP forensic computer analyst Sgt. Lorena Rostie who answered detailed technical questions about how computer files are stored on, linked to, and deleted from computers.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack church pastor child porn trial continues

Crown counsel Teresa Mitchell-Banks wrapped up her questions to Sgt. Rostie asking if, in the course of the officer’s academic experience or her career in the RCMP, she had ever seen where a virus could download child pornography without the user knowing it.

“I’ve not seen anything like that,” Rostie told the court.

Mitchell-Banks asked if the officer had even heard of that happening, particularly over the course of days and years as is alleged in the case at bar. Rostie’s response was “no.”

“If someone is using child pornography and they get a virus, what is the most common source?” she asked.

“The child pornography,” Rostie responded. “In my experience, the viruses are the result of the child pornography and viewing as opposed to the other way around. I’ve never seen a virus download child pornography in my 10 years in tech crimes.”

The trial adjourned after testimony in the morning on March 4 and is set to resume March 10.

Vermeer had his first court appearance in provincial court almost two years ago on March 29, 2018 facing one count each of possession of child pornography and accessing child pornography from May 1, 2010, and the same charges from March 17, 2015.

Vermeer is the former executive pastor of Main Street Church, and the child pornography was discovered on computers at the church.

The highly technical trial is so far mostly focused on how the child pornography got onto the computers.

At the start of the trial, Crown counsel Teresa Mitchell-Banks explained that the IT firm found 81 files with names typical of child pornography. Evidence of more images and videos were later found, some on a laptop computer.

While there have already been several delays, Vermeer’s lawyer Michael Klein has not yet asked the court to consider a motion to dismiss charges under section 11(b) of the criminal code. Under the 2016 Jordan decision, the Supreme Court of Canada decreed that provincial court matters should take no longer than 18 months from charge approval to the end of trial.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack church pastor child porn trial faces multi-month delay


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