A repeat sex offender from Winnipeg who started luring new child victims just hours after he was released from prison on day parole has been sentenced to 14 years in custody for his latest string of crimes.
"I’m not sure if you are able to be rehabilitated or not — I certainly hope so, for the children — but you must be separated from society for a significant amount of time… to keep you away from children for as long as possible," provincial court Judge Kael McKenzie told David Thomas Pearson at a sentencing hearing Tuesday.
Pearson, 39, pleaded guilty last year to five counts of internet luring involving five girls between the ages of 12 and 16, one count of possessing child pornography and one count of violating a court order he have no contact with children under 16.
Pearson appeared in court via video from Bowden Institution in Alberta, where he is serving the remainder of a prior six-year sentence for child luring offences.
McKenzie did not detail the facts of Pearson’s latest crimes in court Tuesday, saying he did not want to "further revictimize the children" or give Pearson "an additional opportunity to relive that experience."
Court heard the 14-year-sentence was jointly recommended by the Crown and defence in a plea bargain that ensured a conviction and spared the victims the prospect of having to testify in court.
"It cannot be understated that the harm to the victims is real, it is traumatic and it is enduring," McKenzie said.
Posing as a 15-year-old boy, Pearson used several social media apps "designed to attract children" and communicated with more than 130 young girls and a handful of boys before he was arrested, Crown attorney Katie Dojack told court at a hearing last year.
Pearson was released on day parole to live in a halfway house March 6, 2019, and immediately bought a cellphone. Sometime later, during a search of his room, a probation officer saw messages from young girls "popping up" on Pearson’s cellphone, Dojack said. The phone was turned over to RCMP, who arrested Pearson the following June.
Police were ultimately able to identify five girls — four from the U.S. and one from Canada — who Pearson, over the course of three weeks, convinced to share intimate pictures and videos with him. Two of the victims told investigators they thought of Pearson as their boyfriend.
Pearson’s victims live with the fear that "the images that they were duped into sharing with a sexual predator may resurface at any point in their lives," McKenzie said Tuesday.
In 2011, Pearson was charged with luring for communicating with a 15-year-old Las Vegas girl he met online while pretending to be a 16-year-old boy. It wasn’t until May 2016 that he was sentenced to two years in prison, by which time he had already been arrested for new luring offences involving six young girls.
At a 2017 sentencing hearing for those offences, Pearson told a judge the lengthy delay in the 2011 case allowed him to reoffend.
Had his 2011 case been dealt with sooner, "I probably wouldn’t be here before you today because I would’ve been incarcerated and I would’ve had the opportunity to reflect on what I have done as being negative, hearing the victim impact statements and learned from my wrongs," Pearson said.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.