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Justice

‘You make me sick,’ mother tells man convicted of child porn charges

Last modified: February 3, 2022 at 4:19pm


Warning: This report contains details involving the sexual abuse of children that readers may find disturbing.

As those impacted by illicit child sexual abuse shared their anguished stories, an admitted collector and online distributor of tens of thousands of images and videos sat hunched over, staring down at some papers.

Mario Laplante, a 64-year-old former resident of Whatì, hung his head low, his grey thinning hair contrasting with the bright red polo shirt he wore to a NWT Supreme Court sentencing hearing in Yellowknife on Wednesday.

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Speaking in a pre-recorded victim impact statement – provided to courts by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection in cases where images of the victim are involved – the mother of one female victim was shown in silhouette on a large video screen in the small courtroom.

“You make me sick,” she said. “You make me angry. I stand here brokenhearted for my child. As a parent, I’m devastated. How will this crime affect her future?

“Her little body is supposed [to be her] most valuable possession and not intended to be available for unlimited viewing on the Internet.” 

The mother said when the abuse was discovered, her daughter asked to change her appearance so she wouldn’t be recognized in public.

“She was so little and scared … so she tried to hide herself,” she said.

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The mother added that her daughter has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and “has prolonged major trauma that will mess with her mind for the rest of her life.” She said counselling for her family is ongoing. 

“My joy of parenting has been paralyzed. When I became a mom … [I never thought] my child would become a victim of sexual exploitation, abused and molested over and over again through online child pornography.”

Laplante has pleaded guilty to charges of possessing child pornography and having made child pornography available to others. Victims ranged in age from infancy to about 12 years old.

Laplante was charged in August 2019 while living in Whatì and working as a registered nurse. The court has previously heard he used the health centre’s internet to download the material, which was later circulated to others. 

Laplante, who now lives in Ottawa, was released under strict conditions. He is now back in custody as the final stage of his sentencing hearing has begun.

During sentencing on Wednesday, Crown prosecutor Morgan Fane said videos and still images were found in Laplante’s possession showing children engaged in lurid acts.

The court heard that a specialized RCMP computer forensics lab found Laplante’s laptop was configured to run a BitTorrent file sharing application, which had been running for a combined total of 91 days. Among the material discovered on the computer were 39,873 unique images and more than 2,302 hours of unique video.

“It took the technicians … almost two weeks to complete the forensic review of Mr Laplante’s computer,” Fane said, noting the images and videos will be sealed from public view.

Following examination by the Yellowknife RCMP’s internet child exploration unit, it was determined several thousand of those still images and 255 hours of video were child pornography as defined by the Criminal Code.

Chief Justice Charbonneau said she will use a specially prepared laptop to view an eight minute 30 second long “representative sample” of the pornographic material in her chambers.

“It provides a fair sense of the general nature of the abuse depicted in his collection,” prosecutor Fane said of the sample.

The court also heard from a survivor of child sexual abuse on Wednesday, who said the impacts continue to affect her as an adult. 

“It is hard to describe what it feels like to know that at any moment, anywhere, someone would be looking at pictures of me as a child being sexually abused and getting sick gratification from it,” the woman said, appearing in silhouette and reading from her statement in a cold tone. 

“It’s like I’m being abused over and over and over again. I want it all erased, I want it all stopped … I am powerless now as I was when I was abused.”

The woman said she feels humiliated and is afraid of people knowing what she has been through. 

“I was very confused for a long time about what love really is,” she said, her voice cracking. “My abusers said they loved me … but I now know that love was not real. I still feel like I’m used and exploited every day, all the time.”

The Crown and defence will make their sentencing arguments Thursday morning. Charbonneau plans to make a decision on sentencing in March or April.


Update: February 3, 2022 – 16:16 MT. This article has been updated to clarify details around the source of the pre-recorded victim impact statements.

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