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Stephen Schacter child pornography trial begins

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Stephen Joseph Schacter
Stephen Joseph Schacter

Stephen Schacter, a former teacher at two Toronto-area Jewish day schools, was seen viewing “inappropriate” images on a computer, causing some witnesses to be “visibly upset,” a court has heard.

Schacter, 56, has pleaded not guilty to one count of possessing child pornography.

He was arrested in December 2015 after he viewed images on a computer at the Lawrence Square employment and social services centre on Nov. 6, 2015.

A publication ban prevents the identification of witnesses at his trial.

Court heard on Feb. 1 and 2 from several witnesses that Schacter was seen viewing “inappropriate” images at the centre. Some witnesses said they heard about the images from others at the centre that day.

His lawyer, Joseph Kappy, challenged the witnesses on whether the images were sexual in nature and whether they had actually seen them.

READ: FORMER TEACHER PLEADS NOT GUILTY TO CHILD PORN CHARGES

Court heard that Schacter was warned that the facility’s computers are for official use only.

The images “had to be” on an external storage device Schacter had brought with him because the centre’s computers have strong filters that “block a lot of” information, said one witness.

When confronted, Schacter said the photographs were of a friend’s child, “and I’m deleting them,” according to a witness, who said the images were on a thumb drive.

Schacter “appeared nervous” and others at the centre were “visibly upset,” according to testimony.

Police were called and later executed a search warrant at Schacter’s residence. Court heard that several computers, cell phones and data storage devices were seized.

Police believe that dozens of images found on the storage devices satisfy the Criminal Code’s definition of child pornography, his trial heard.

Schacter showed no emotion as some of the photographs were shown in court.

Schacter was a teacher at Eitz Chaim Schools between 1986 and 2004. He also worked with students in the school’s library.

He was an office administrator, student supervisor, and supply teacher at United Synagogue Day School (now Robbins Hebrew Academy) from 2004 to 2006.

He was a primary teacher’s assistant in grades one and two at Pleasant Avenue Public School in 2004, and was a private tutor from 2009 until 2011.

Separately, Schacter faces charges of sexual assault, sexual interference, sexual exploitation and gross indecency. Some of the charges relate to the 1980s and early 1990s and other to the early 2000s. His trial on those charges is expected to begin in the summer.

His trial on the child pornography charge continues before Justice Susan Chapman of the Ontario Court of Justice on Feb. 28.

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