Wednesday, October 8, 1997

Suzanne Fournier
Staff Reporter

p. A11.

Porn charge puts career in jeopardy

A Burnaby school principal's conviction for possessing child pornography will likely end his teaching career, says the district chairman.

"We were waiting to see if he was convicted before proceeding since he is actually only suspended -- now we'll discuss it as a board next Tuesday night," said Burnaby school board chairman Ron Burton.

"He's also been told he can't be alone with a child under 18 except with an adult present, so that would affect his teaching career, too."

William Bennest, 52, a teacher for 25 years and a principal for six years in Burnaby, appeared without advance notice in court Friday to plead guilty to one count of possessing child pornography.

Bennest has launched a lawsuit against the Burnaby school district to try to secure his back pay since he was suspended last October. Now that he's convicted, the board will get fresh legal advice, Burton said.

Bennest was charged last September with five counts, including two of making and posessing child pornography, one of sexually procuing a boy under the age of 18 and two of sexually touching a boy under the age of 14.

The Crown stayed the child-sex charges last January and Bennest finally pleaded guilty only to one count, of possessing child porn.

Police seized 43 videotapes, five audio cassettes and numerous photos and magazines, as well as material from Bennest's office.

Bennest received a two-year suspended sentence and was placed on probation.

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Created: October 13, 1997
Last modified: October 13, 1997

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