Sharpe sentenced in B.C. child pornography case

B.C. man who challenged child porn laws escapes jail, gets house arrest

The man at the centre of a controversial fight against Canada's child pornography laws won't be going to jail.

John Robin Sharpe was given a four-month conditional sentence Thursday. It amounts to house arrest for his conviction in March of possessing child pornography.

Sharpe was acquitted of two charges of distributing child pornography after a long legal fight that went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. The court ruled that graphic child sex stories Sharpe wrote had artistic merit and therefore were exempt from the pornography laws.

Thursday's sentence means Sharpe must stay at home between 4 p.m. and 8 a.m. He'll also be restricted in his use of the Internet.

The sentence falls short of the year in jail the Crown called for. "He recorded the sexual abuse and exploitation of dozens of children over many years and he got sexual gratification from them," said prosecutor Terry Schultes.

But Justice Duncan Shaw of the B.C. Supreme Court said Sharpe has already suffered enough. "In the eyes of many he has become a pariah, endured six years of this court case and has no criminal record," he said.

Sharpe was charged after police found 517 photographs of mostly young boys in his possession.

Sharpe was unrepentant after Thursday's ruling and said he will not seek treatment. "You are what you are," he said.

"No, I don't think the boys would think so either. As I say my regret is that I failed to overturn the law."

A child advocacy group says the sentence makes Sharpe the champion for people who want to engage in sex with children. After the sentencing, Lorna Dueck with the National Coalition of Concerned Mothers, said the "hugely symbolic case" was a missed opportunity to protect children.

Sharpe says he plans to move away from Vancouver as soon as his four-month sentence is finished.