Chilliwack church pastor child porn trial continues

Defence request for further computer log disclosure led to multi-month delays

The child pornography trial of a former Chilliwack church pastor finally continued Thursday after a multi-month delay.

John (Johannes) Vermeer is charged with downloading child pornography on to computers at Main Street Church on two separate occasions nearly four years ago.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack pastor’s child porn trial delves into computer technicalities

The highly technical trial first began on July 23, 2019 and delved into the technical details of computer systems, and how digital files are shared, stored and deleted.

That continued on Thursday with the first witness, Lyle Kullman, a computer technician with Empyrion Technologies, the IT firm used by the church, the company that was alerted to the illegal pictures and videos by an anti-virus company.

The trial in 2019 fell apart when it became clear that more computer logs needed to be disclosed to Vermeer by Crown, and an external hard drive that was connected to Vermeer’s main computer was missing.

The original trial was scheduled to run from July 23 to 26, July 29 to 31 and August 1, but all those court dates were lost with the first delay due to how busy the courthouse is in Chilliwack.

The trial is now scheduled Friday, then with dates into February, March and May.

Vermeer is charged with one count each of possession of child pornography and accessing child pornography from May 1, 2010. He also faces the same charges with an offence date of March 17, 2015.

At the start of the trial, Crown counsel Teresa Mitchell-Banks explained that the IT firm found 81 files with names typical of child pornography.

Evidence of more images and videos were later found, some on a laptop computer previously used by Vermeer.

“Some of these names are extremely graphic,” Mitchell-Banks said in her opening submissions.

She gave an example of one 14-minute video found deleted from a computer that involved three girls between the ages of 10 and 12.

When the child porn was first found on the computer systems, Vermeer told pastor Shawn Vandop that it was not his doing and must have come from an external hacker.

It was Vandop who notified the RCMP, which triggered the investigation leading to Vermeer’s arrest in March 2018.

Vandop said the congregation met the news with shock.

“It’s not something that we want to hear or want to deal with but we live in a broken and messy world with a lot of pain,” he said.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack pastor facing child pornography charges

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