A sentencing hearing will be held today for former Saint John city councillor and youth ministry leader Donnie Snook on 46 child sex abuse charges.

Details about the abuse are expected to be relayed in court for the first time since Snook, 41, was arrested in January.

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Donnie Snook is also facing four sex abuse charges in Newfoundland. (CBC)

Victim impact statements have also been requested, along with an assessment of Snook's risk of reoffending.

Provincial Court Judge Alfred Brien has said he may not sentence Snook until a later date, once he has time to consider all of the information.

It is one of the biggest sex abuse cases in New Brunswick's history, rivaling that of notorious Kingsclear guard Karl Toft, who was convicted in 1992 of 34 abuse charges involving 18 boys.

Snook pleaded guilty in May to 46 charges dating back to 2001 involving 17 boys as young as five years old.

The charges include sexual assault, sexually touching a minor while in a position of trust, making child pornography and extortion.

Snook is also facing four sex abuse charges in his native province of Newfoundland and Labrador, where he worked as a senior pastor in Mount Moriah during the 1990s.

He has not yet entered pleas on those charges, which include two counts of sexual assault and two counts of sexual interference involving a boy who was under the age of 14 at the time. That matter has been adjourned until Oct. 29.

Crown prosecutor Karen Lee Lamrock, who has described the "magnitude" of the New Brunswick case as "shocking," has previously declined to comment on the length of sentence she plans to recommend.

Many of the charges against Snook carry a minimum sentence of one year in jail and a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Karl Toft was sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Dennis Boyle, Snook's defence lawyer, has suggested he hopes the court will consider "the new knowledge of pedophilia."

"Healing and rehabilitation and forgiveness are some of the things that we have to look at in these things if we're ever going to make a difference and ever try to breach and break this cycle," Boyle has said.

He expects the sentencing hearing will be a "very long and trying and hurtful day with a lot of pain and suffering being exposed."

2-year investigation

Snook, who remains in custody at an undisclosed location, served as director of the Saint John Inner City Youth Ministry, a foster parent and and an active community volunteer.

The investigation against him started in Toronto in 2011 when an RCMP officer discovered an unknown person in the Saint John area trading child pornography online.

Someone linked to Snook's Martha Avenue home was trading hundreds of sexual images of boys as young as toddlers engaged in various sexual acts with adult males and prepubescent males, according to previously-released search warrants.

Someone at the address also offered up young boys for live web cam sessions, claiming children in the city were widely available to him, according to the more than 500 pages of documents.

Search warrants obtained by CBC News indicate Saint John police believe Snook's SUV and camper were used in the the commission of the crimes.

The charges against Snook include: nine counts of making child pornography, two counts of possession child pornography and two counts of making child pornography available.

There are also two counts of sexual assault, 13 counts of sexually touching a minor, 10 counts of inviting a youth to touch him, three counts of touching a child for a sexual purpose while in a position of trust and four counts of communicating with a child for a sexual purpose.

One of the charges is extortion — inducing a child by threats to distribute or post a naked picture of himself.