Former Main Street Church executive pastor John Vermeer was convicted of two counts each of accessing and possessing child pornography on April 30, 2021. Judge Andrea Ormiston sentenced him to 14 months jail followed by 18 months probation on Oct. 13, 2021. (File)

Former Main Street Church executive pastor John Vermeer was convicted of two counts each of accessing and possessing child pornography on April 30, 2021. Judge Andrea Ormiston sentenced him to 14 months jail followed by 18 months probation on Oct. 13, 2021. (File)

Chilliwack church pastor sentenced to 14 months jail in child porn case

‘Mr. Vermeer possessed some of the most offensive, harmful and depraved forms of abuse on children’: judge

Main Street Church’s former executive pastor is off to jail after being sentenced for accessing and possessing child pornography.

Johannes (John) Vermeer was sentenced to 14 months incarceration followed by 18 months probation by Judge Andrea Ormiston in Chilliwack provincial court on Oct. 13.

“Mr. Vermeer possessed some of the most offensive, harmful and depraved forms of abuse on children,” Judge Ormiston said in reading her decision.

“The fact that the victims are unknown to Mr. Vermeer and the court do not make their suffering any less.”

At the sentencing hearing on April 30, Vermeer’s lawyer Michael Klein agreed that a conditional sentence order was not available in this case and asked for a sentence in the range of eight to 10 months.

READ MORE: Chilliwack church pastor found guilty of accessing of child pornography

READ MORE: Sentencing begins for Chilliwack church pastor guilty of accessing of child pornography

Crown counsel Teresa Mitchell-Banks argued a much more serious sentence was in order, as there is no practical difference between offenders who access and view child pornography and the pedophiles and abusers who create the illegal images and videos.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that people who watch online child pornography are online pedophiles,” Mitchell-Banks said. “He is an online predator.”

She asked for a sentenced of five years, and that the judge consider two five-year sentences to run consecutively.

Vermeer was convicted of two counts of accessing child pornography and two counts of possessing child pornography from 2010 and 2015. At that time, the maximum sentence allowable under the criminal code was five years jail. In late 2015, Parliament raised that to 10 years.

A mitigating factor in the case is that Vermeer is 62 years old and this was his first contact with the justice system. A number of people wrote letters of support for him, and his wife attended most court appearances including the sentencing.

An aggravating factor according to Judge Ormiston is that Vermeer appears to have no insight into his criminal behaviour or the reasons for it. In fact, Ormiston pointed to the letters of support from friends “that cannot accept that these offences occurred.”

Despite this ongoing denial of the offences, Ormiston said the court determined beyond a reasonable doubt that Vermeer has an “entrenched interest in child pornography,” with files and folders on his computer with names consistent with child pornography dating back to 2006.

“His prospects for rehabilitation are difficult to assess,” she said.

Following his sentence of incarceration, Vermeer faces 18 months of probation under strict conditions typical of sex offenders. He is not permitted to be around parks, playgrounds, pools, theatres or anywhere were children under 16 could be expected to be present.

He cannot do volunteer work or have employment that involves people under 16. He also cannot use any devices that access the internet if those devices have an ability to delete search history or can use incognito searching, nor can he use peer-to-peer file sharing programs.

Vermeer said nothing after the sentencing. He was handcuffed by a court sheriff and taken into custody.


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