EDITORIAL: No punishment can undo damage

No matter the sentence doled out by courts, it doesn't mitigate damage done by child pornography and those involved with it.

It’s hard to imagine there are people who do not cringe at the thought of child pornography.

Sadly, there are many who do exactly the opposite – some collect it, even cherish it, causing demand for more to be created.

It would be fair to consider these individuals an example of much that is wrong with society. These people seemingly have no regard for the impact on the children who are exploited to satisfy their craving.

They don’t concern themselves with the fact that children stop being children the moment they are made to pose for images that, in seconds, are shared around the world; captured forever doing things no one, let alone a child, should be forced to be subjected to.

As much as we’d like to believe otherwise, the Semiahmoo Peninsula is not immune to this issue, nor to the people who help it thrive.

One taught in our elementary-school classrooms; another supported efforts to benefit youth recreational activities.

The latter, Douglas Wayne Bowers, was sentenced last September to nine months in jail after pleading guilty to possessing child pornography. Bowers first appeared in the pages of the Peace Arch News after his son’s January 2001 death from a head injury suffered while snowboarding.

Wednesday, former teacher George Heinz Kraus was sentenced for also possessing child pornography.

It was Kraus’s second round in the justice system. He had taught for 13 years at White Rock Elementary and was in his second year at Laronde Elementary when he was arrested on the same charge for the first time, in 2005.

That time, he avoided incarceration, as no mandatory minimum jail term was in place. This time, after Crown and defence had argued their points – and Kraus himself offered a weak explanation for repeating his actions, that he believed the videos were legal because they were commercially available – Judge Ellen Gordon imposed a sentence of 90 days in jail which Kraus will serve on weekends.

Prior to learning his fate, Kraus claimed that media had “printed a very black picture of me.”

The statement is dismissible. Regardless of whether the crime involves one video or image, or thousands of them, or whether ignorance plays any role in it, the only reasonable “picture” of any such perpetrator is very dark indeed.

Any degree of involvement with child pornography contributes to lifelong damage to its victims. No sentence – no media attention – can undo that.