Nova Scotia

Pediatrician caught with child porn fights to remove name from sex offender registry

The lawyer for a pediatrician sentenced to 11 months in prison for having child pornography on his computer is fighting to have her client's name removed from Canada's sex offender registry. Katheryn Piché is arguing the provision in the law that makes registering mandatory for anyone convicted of a child porn charge is "overbroad, arbitrary and grossly disproportionate."

Halifax pediatrician Willam Vitale was sentenced for possessing child pornography in 2019

William Vitale is pictured in 2018. His lawyer is calling for a judicial review into a 2019 decision to keep his name on the sex offender registry. (CBC)

A Halifax pediatrician sentenced to 11 months in prison for possessing child pornography is fighting to have his name taken off Canada's sex offender registry.

A provincial court judge sentenced William Vitale in 2019. He pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of child pornography a year earlier.

The Crown said the physician, who was 74 at the time of his sentencing, had been accessing pornographic anime, digital images and literature involving children, on his home computer between January 2013 and December 2014.

Any conviction on a child pornography charge automatically includes a requirement that the guilty party register as a sex offender. Vitale argued, through his lawyer, that provision in the law violated his charter rights, but provincial court Judge Michael Sherar originally dismissed that claim in October 2019.

Vitale's lawyer Katheryn Piché argued Wednesday for a judicial review of that decision, saying Sherar "erred in law" by not finding that part of the law was "overbroad, arbitrary and grossly disproportionate."

According to documents filed in support of her call for a review, the provision in the law also violated her client's charter rights "on the basis that it constitutes cruel and unusual treatment."

Piché declined to comment further on the case when reached by CBC News Wednesday.

'It's a valid law,' says Crown attorney

She's not the first lawyer to challenge the validity of the automatic registration requirement, but Crown attorney Peter Dostal argued Sherar's decision should stand.

"The predominance of the Court of Appeal decisions has called it a valid law, but it's not unanimous," he told CBC following the review hearing before the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. "Our position throughout has been that it's a valid law."

Dostal said it was likely some case like this one would someday make it to the Supreme Court of Canada for it to make a final determination.

"It's likely to be continued to be litigated both here and potentially at some point going up to Ottawa," said Dostal. "I wouldn't say it's necessarily this case, but a case perhaps in a different province may go up to make a final determination on whether this law is valid."

Supreme Court Justice Peter Rosinski reserved his judgment on Wednesday.

MORE TOP STORIES

now