Jail sentence for former junior high music teacher on child porn convictions

A former junior high music and physical education teacher has been sentenced to one year in jail on three child pornography charges.

‘You can continue to be a valuable member of our society,’ judge says

Seen in this undated photo, Marc Daigle, a teacher at St. Nicholas Catholic Junior High School, has been sentenced to one year in jail for three child porn convictions. (Facebook)

A former junior high music and physical education teacher was sentenced Monday to one year in jail on three child pornography charges. 

Last March, Marc Daigle was found guilty of possessing, accessing and distributing child pornography. Two of those three charges carry a mandatory minimum 12-month sentence. 

The Crown and defence presented a joint sentencing submission to Court of Queen's Bench Justice Rodney Jerke. 

The two lawyers agreed the lowest possible sentence of 12 months should be imposed, to be followed by 18 months of probation.

Prosecutor James Rowan noted the efforts Daigle has made since his arrest to deal with his issues by undergoing "an extensive amount" of psychological treatment.

A psychologist's report prepared for the judge indicated Daigle was in a downward spiral involving depression when he began to access child pornography on the internet. 

Police found images of "naked pre-pubescent children" on a memory stick belonging to Daigle. There were 52 photos and eight videos of child pornography on a laptop that had been downloaded between March 30, 2014 and Oct. 10, 2016. 

A second laptop contained 29 child pornography images that were downloaded in 2017. 

One of Daigle's cellphones, seized by investigators, was used to search the internet using the term "seduced by her piano teacher," according to an agreed statement of facts.

The 27-year-old used to teach piano in private music lessons. He also taught music, jazz band, honour band and physical education at St. Nicholas Junior High School.

He was fired by the Edmonton Catholic school district the day after he was arrested in May 2017. 

The Crown described Daigle's collection of child pornography as being on the "lower to middle end" of seriousness in terms of depravity and size. 

"It was not an especially large quantity," Rowan said. 

"The use of the internet for accessing child pornography constitutes profound and present danger to children all over the world. It's a crime committed specifically by choice," the judge said when handing down his sentence.

"It is repugnant to all civilized people."

Marc Daigle, 27, has been sentenced on three child pornography charges. (Reverbnation.com)

The judge agreed with a submission from the lawyers to impose a ten-year ban on contact with anyone under the age of 18 unless a parent or guardian is present. 

Defence lawyer Mike Danyluik noted Daigle will have to choose a new career after he serves his sentence. 

"He'll have to find a new vocation," Danyluik said. "It's obviously been derailed or halted. He won't be a teacher again." 

'You are accountable. You own this'

A group of about ten people supporting Daigle sat in the courtroom for the sentencing hearing. One woman later identified as Daigle's mother appeared to be wiping away tears. 

The judge directed some of his comments to Daigle about his parents, who did not attend the trial, but were present for sentencing.

 "I hope sir that at some point your parents who have expressed support but have been unable to attend court will be able to understand and accept it and [realize] that they are not to blame," Jerke said.

"You are accountable. You own this and they have supported you." 

The judge also gave some words of encouragement to Daigle. 

"Healing can happen," Jerke said. "For all of us, no matter what we have done, there can be a way forward."

He praised Daigle for his honesty and willingness to seek psychological counselling. 

"In my view, you sir can continue to be a valuable member of our society," Jerke said. "You need to complete the path you're on...I have confidence you will continue to do so."

Before Daigle was led to a cell by sheriffs, he was allowed to hug and kiss his mother. Then he turned to smile at his friends and family and waved goodbye. 

Daigle must provide his DNA and will be listed on the sex offender registry for 15 years after his release from jail. 

About the Author

Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston