Alberta Children's Services worker sentenced to 18 months for child pornography offences

A former social worker for Alberta Children’s Service has been sentenced to 18 months for accessing and possessing over 3,000 images of child pornography.

'It just came to a point where I opened up the USB drive and I kept looking at them'

Henry Victor Haineault was sentenced by a Calgary court to 18 months in jail for possessing and accessing child pornography. (David Bell/CBC)

A former social worker for Alberta Children's Service has been sentenced to 18 months for accessing and possessing over 3,000 images of child pornography. 

Henry Victor Haineault, 64, was charged in April 2018 after technicians with Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team's Internet child exploitation unit found thousands of pornographic images on his thumb drive and work laptop. 

Haineault, a social worker for 30 years, was convicted of accessing and possessing child pornography in February. 

In court Friday, Haineault said he had a traumatic childhood, in part due to intergenerational trauma from residential schools. He said he was sexually abused as a child.

Haineault said his parents were alcoholics. He too suffered from addiction from an early age, eventually enrolling in Alcoholics Anonymous.

"I stopped going to meetings. I stopped praying… and all of a sudden my psyche, my thinking started to," he said, trailing off. "Then I started to look at pornography." 

"It just came to the point where I opened up the USB drive and I kept looking at them [child pornography]," said Haineault. "I'm guilty, your honour." 

'A serious and grave offense' 

Due to his family's history with residential school, Haineault said he didn't think federal prison would be a good fit for his rehabilitation. Sentences under two years are served in provincial jails.

Since the charges were laid against Haineault, he said he started praying again.

"I can guarantee you to this day that I have never viewed pornography since that day I was arrested, because I know it was wrong." 

Crown prosecutor Parm Johal argued Haineault should be sentenced to two years in a federal prison. 

"It's a serious and grave offense, not only to these children depicted in the images, but to society as a whole," said Johal. 

Although Haineault didn't create the photos, she said obtaining child pornography "further perpetuates the victimization of these children." 

'Planned and deliberate,' judge says 

The photos were of children between six and 14, she said. Johal said about 15 per cent of the images depicted a child's abuse by an adult. 

"It's very important for these courts… to send a very strong message of denunciation and deterrence of this crime," said Johal. 

Calgary Court of Queen's Bench Justice Paul Jeffrey said because Haineault viewed the pornographic images at least twice, "the offences were planned and deliberate." 

I'm guilty, your honour.- Henry Victor Haineault, admitting to child pornography offences during a sentencing hearing Friday.

But Jeffrey said he would not impose a stricter sentence after finding no evidence Haineault had broken the trust of the children under his care as a social worker.

"In my view it's not appropriate or fair to escalate the sentence because he was working helpfully and constructively with children," said Jeffrey. 

He said Haineault's admission in court on Friday was "the very first step to healing, to rehabilitation." 

Jeffrey said it's important Haineault have access to Alcoholics Anonymous while in custody.

Haineault will serve an 18-month sentence for accessing child pornography concurrently with a six-month sentence for possessing child pornography. He will be placed on the sex offender registry and serve 18 month probation, Jeffrey ruled.