WARNING: This article contains graphic content and may affect those who have experienced sexual violence or know someone affected by it.
Sentencing has begun for a Nova Scotia man accused of sex offences involving two young girls.
Peter Alan Moorhouse, 50, appeared in provincial court in Shubenacadie, N.S., on Friday for the long-delayed sentencing hearing. Moorhouse was charged back in January 2021 and pleaded guilty without requiring a trial. But his case has been delayed repeatedly while his lawyer awaits a ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada on the issue of mandatory minimum sentences.
The charges Moorhouse has admitted to carry sentences of at least a year in prison.
Lawyer Ian Hutchison argues those minimums are cruel and unusual punishment and violate Moorhouse's Charter rights.
RCMP were contacted on Jan. 24, 2021, by a woman who said she'd found inappropriate messages on the cellphone of a man she knew, Carlos Moraga. The emails were an exchange between Moraga and Moorhouse and involved the woman's 14-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old girl Moorhouse knows.
In the emails, the two men discuss how they could sexually assault the 14-year-old. Moorhouse also tells Moraga he would like to watch him sexually assault the 12-year-old. The emails are so explicit that they are considered child pornography and are now subject to both a publication ban and a sealing order.
Moraga admitted to groping the 14-year-old and producing child pornography. He was sentenced earlier this year to 27 months in prison.
Hutchison called a forensic psychologist to testify about the risk his client poses and the possibility of him being treated in the community. Dr. Pam Yates interviewed Moorhouse for 14 hours and also talked to friends and associates. She said, in her assessment, she does not believe Moorhouse is a pedophile and she also describes him as a low risk to reoffend.
Yates said his offences could be a way to cope with sexual abuse Moorhouse says he suffered at the hands of a relative when he was 10 years old. She said he suffers from sexual dysfunction and substance abuse, among other issues. His substance abuse is alcohol consumption, something Moorhouse told the psychologist he is working to reduce.
Yates said there are treatment programs available in the community that could address Moorhouse's offences if he's not sent to prison.
The Crown and defence are submitting written briefs on the question of whether a mandatory minimum sentence would be unfair to Moorhouse, and also on the broader question of what sentence he should receive.
Moorhouse will return to court at a later date to learn his fate.
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