A St. John's lawyer says disgraced former Roman Catholic bishop Raymond Lahey waited far too long to plead guilty in a child pornography case.

Lahey, 70, pleaded guilty in Ottawa Wednesday to a charge of possessing child pornography for the purposes of importing it to Canada.

Greg Stack, who represents claimant Todd Boland in a civil action against Lahey that alleges sexual abuse, said he was disappointed that Lahey had not made the plea earlier.

Lahey was charged in September 2009 after Canadian Border Services agents found pornographic materials on his laptop computer.

"I would have thought that ... he would have entered a guilty plea much earlier. He had many earlier opportunities to do so," Stack told CBC News.

Lahey, a native of St. John's who resigned as the bishop responsible for the diocese in Antigonish, N.S. was taken into custody after his lawyer said he wanted to start serving time immediately. He has not yet been sentenced, although a court hearing is scheduled for May 26.

In a statement of claim against Lahey, Boland alleges that Lahey fondled him when he was a young boy at Mount Cashel, the St. John's orphanage that closed in 1990 amid a sexual abuse scandal and a royal commission into how the criminal justice system in Newfoundland and Labrador shut down a police investigation 15 years earlier.

Lahey has denied Boland's claims, and the matter has not yet gone to court.

Stack, who has represented dozens of people who were sexually assaulted by clergy, said the Lahey case appears to be part of a trend involving the Roman Catholic church.

"There doesn't seem to be any hurry on their part or any eagerness to settle these matters," Stack said.

"They drag them out, and they often put these victims through pretty horrendous discovery types proceedings."

On the child pornography charge, Lahey faces a minimum sentence of one year in jail.