Former Main Street Church executive pastor John Vermeer took the witness stand in his own defence on Oct. 6, 2020 in his trial for child pornography in Chilliwack provincial court.

Chilliwack church pastor takes the witness stand in child porn trial

John Vermeer testified that he called RCMP when child pornography was found on church computers

Former Main Street Church executive pastor John (Johannes) Vermeer took to the witness stand in provincial court on Tuesday (Oct. 6, 2020) to testify in his own defence at his child pornography trial.

Vermeer told the court that he was the one who called the RCMP when someone from the IT firm used by the church told him they found files with names typical of child pornography.

“I called the detachment,” he told Judge Andrea Ormiston, even though he said neither he nor lead pastor Shawn Vandop could see child pornography images on the computer.

“We couldn’t see any files or images. [The RCMP] said, ‘Until you discover something more concrete, we are not going to attend.’”

So Vermeer said he then contacted the IT firm, Empyrion, and a technician came out to examine the computer in more detail. Vermeer told the court that the technician did find files that looked like child pornography. Under questioning by his lawyer Michael Klein, Vermeer said one video in question had been viewed on a Friday night when he was at a fundraiser for Ruth & Naomi’s at Chilliwack Alliance Church.

“Shawn said ‘That gets you off the hook,’” Vermeer told the court. “We felt some comfort in that.”

In all, Crown counsel Teresa Mitchell-Banks told the court at the outset of the trial that 81 files with names typical of child pornography were found on Vermeer’s office computer. Evidence of more images and videos were later found, some on a laptop computer.

The highly technical trial has been beset by delays from the start. The main witness so far was RCMP forensic computer analyst Sgt. Lorena Rostie who answered detailed technical questions about how computer files are stored on, linked to, and deleted from computers.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack church pastor child porn trial continues

On the witness stand back in March, Rostie was asked questions about whether or not it was possible for a virus to download child pornography onto a computer, but she said she had never seen that.

“If someone is using child pornography and they get a virus, what is the most common source?” Mitchell-Banks asked.

“The child pornography,” Rostie responded. “In my experience, the viruses are the result of the child pornography and viewing as opposed to the other way around. I’ve never seen a virus download child pornography in my 10 years in tech crimes.”

Vermeer had his first court appearance in provincial court almost two years ago on March 29, 2018 facing one count each of possession of child pornography and accessing child pornography from May 1, 2010, and the same charges from March 17, 2015.

The trial continued Tuesday and was scheduled to continue Oct. 7 and Oct. 8 and then not resume until Jan. 7 and Jan 8, 2021.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack church pastor child porn trial faces multi-month delay


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