Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

"The child porn isn't mine...it's for the pedophile"

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I thought I'd heard pretty much every excuse in the book.But then along came the strange case of Clarence Hildebrand, the 60-year-old Winnipeg real estate agent who was in court this week to be sentenced for downloading images of child pornography.After listening to Hildebrand's lawyer "explain" his client's actions, I left court sarcastically thinking we should have skipped the criminal case and instead given this man the key to the city.That's because Hildebrand was presented as some kind of moral crusader, a concerned citizen doing his gosh darn best to keep the streets safe for innocent children.(You know, the kinds of children who were being molested in the pictures Hildebrand admits he obtained)My jaw dropped when Hildebrand's lawyer explained how his client wasn't downloading the pictures for himself - they were for a neighbourhood pedophile.Hildebrand had met this man through his travels and was "distressed" to learn he was cruising the streets at night trying to pick up underaged sex trade workers, court was told.So instead of grabbing the telephone and calling police, Hildebrand picked up his computer mouse and began surfing for illegal smut.A few clicks later and he'd put together a CD containing graphic images which he then turned over to the man he apparently despised and wanted to stop.Hildebrand apparently thought feeding the beast was the best way to keep the community safe.“He wanted to stop this man from preying on young girls. He told police that he would kill someone for molesting a child,” his lawyer said.“What he did was a stupid thing but he honestly felt like he was righting a wrong and helping to protect children.”The old saying "Denial isn't just a river in Egypt" seems appropriate here, but Hildebrand is sadly just the latest example of a child pornographer who comes to court with a list of often bizarre excuses at the ready.Such as the case last year where a man got caught downloading kiddy porn but claimed he was simply trying to educate himself - and his young daughter - about the evils that lurk in the world.Or the man who claims he was a victim of sexual abuse as a child and needed to study images, now years later, of children in a similar position to come to grips with his troubled past.Heck, just a few minutes after Hildebrand's case wrapped up a former armoured car guard was next in line to take "responsibility" for his actions.The 40-year-old man didn't deny downloading more than 400 pictures and movies, but claimed they had somehow accidentally entered his computer system while he was looking for perfectly legal adult pornography.Anyone buying that one?Actually, perhaps even more distressing then the types of explanations being offered to the court is the fact judges seem to be readily acceping them.To be fair, the Crown usually isn't calling any evidence to the contrary at these sentencing hearings, essentially leaving defence submissions such as the one in Hildebrand's case to go unchallenged.Hildebrand was given a conditional sentence which allows him to remain free in the community under a joint-recommendation from Crown and defence lawyers.The only thing that likely spared him from a real jail term is the fact his crime goes back a few years - as his type of offence now has a mandatory period of incarceration.I just wish we could all be spared the kinds of pathetic explanations being put forward in court.

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About Mike McIntyre

Journalist, national radio show host, author, pundit and cruise director ... Mike McIntyre loves to keep busy.

Mike is the justice reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, where he has worked since 1997. He produces and hosts the weekly talk radio show Crime and Punishment, which runs on the Corus Radio Network in several Canadian cities.

Born and bred in Winnipeg, Mike graduated from River East Collegiate and completed his journalism studies in the Creative Communications program at Red River College.

He and his wife, Chassity, have two children.

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