YK child porn addict describes destroying his life, and others

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Gary Stephen Miller had a sex addiction. It became a child porn addiction.

That’s the narrative NWT Supreme Court Justice Karan Shaner heard as the 63-year-old prepared to be sentenced.

Until last year, Miller held a job at the territory’s Ekati diamond mine worth a quarter of a million dollars a year, he claimed, including salary and benefits.

On Wednesday he sat with head bowed on the witness stand, contemplating his own ruined life and those of the children whose forced sexual acts he watched.

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Fifteen months after his arrest, as part of a nationwide investigation dubbed Operation Snapshot III, the crown prosecutor believes Miller still fails to understand the appalling effects of his actions.

He possessed hundreds of images of child pornography, the court heard, and 77 videos – totalling more than 16 hours of footage termed ‘vile’ by the prosecution.

BBC: Can child porn users be treated?

Of those videos, roughly two-thirds were said to depict children who appeared to be no more than 12 or 13 years of age. Sometimes, they were younger. Justice Shaner was shown brief excerpts of some videos to illustrate their nature.

On Miller’s seized computers, said crown prosecutor Kindra Lakusta, search terms like ‘1yo’, ‘2yo’ and ‘3yo’ were found – apparent references to ages – alongside words like ‘lolita’ and ‘underage’.

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Child pornography falls into five categories, Lakusta told the court. Category one, considered the least offensive, is child nudity or “erotic posing”. Category two involves sexual activity either alone or between children. Categories three and four involve adults with children.

Category five is reserved for pornography featuring children involved in the likes of bestiality or bondage.

Miller possessed one category five video, said Lakusta, and ‘many’ from category four: penetrative sex with an adult.

Thousands more images and videos on hard drives he owned were “of investigative interest” in that the age of those involved was unclear, or they depicted clothed or partially clothed children, and hence could not be clearly termed child pornography.

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Miller was formally convicted of possessing child pornography on Wednesday and remanded into custody, having admitted his guilt since the moment of his arrest in May 2014. Three other charges were stayed.

Justice Shaner must now decide on the length of his sentence. The mandatory minimum for the crime is six months and the defence is seeking a sentence close to that minimum, while the prosecution asked Shaner for a term closer to 18 months. Miller can expect a further three years on probation.

Shaner is set to announce her decision on October 2.

‘Trail of disaster and trouble’

In the meantime, Miller recounted to the court how his life had fallen apart since his arrest.

Answering questions from defence lawyer Peter Harte, Miller said he had grown up in Toronto before marrying in 1981. He and his wife had separated in 1989. For a time, they shared custody of their young son.

In the mid-1990s, Miller – with a degree in surveying – moved to the Northwest Territories for work. He started at Ekati as chief surveyor in 1997, becoming the mine’s superintendent of project engineering by the time of his arrest.

Slowly, Miller told the court, pornography took over.

“I was addicted to internet porn,” he said. “Until you understand it’s an addiction, you’re powerless to do anything about it. It started years ago and certainly not with anything you’re hearing about today.

“It started with Playboy – what I guess society calls acceptable pornography. I realize now that none of it is acceptable. It’s all a linked trail of disaster and trouble. Over time, you become inured to it. It seems to be acceptable, there’s so much of it going on.

“Pornography works on you. It blurs the lines. The bar starts to go down over a period of time. It doesn’t start where it ended up – it’s a gradual slide into progressively worse material.”

Miller suggested that the pattern of his life, living alone in the Northwest Territories, contributed to his descent into a world of illegal pornography.

“When you’re in isolation, you have all the opportunity to lead a double life. I was living up here alone, and that’s when my internet use became pervasive,” he continued.

“Addiction slowly turns you to believe that everybody does this. The internet was the source of all that’s happening. That was what enabled it.”

Background: Website of the porn addiction program Miller has attended since arrest

He drew a comparison between his situation and that of someone who smokes for 40 years before being diagnosed with cancer, or drinks until they wake up in the gutter – people who only change once they hit the lowest possible point. In Miller’s case, that was his arrest.

“The baseball bat upside my head is you’re going to go to prison,” he said. “Why did I do this, to this point?”

A statement from one of the young girls featured in Miller’s video collection is on file with the court. Miller has read it. Through tears, he said reading her words had been “the first time I realized I was an abuser”.

“I was a participant in her abuse, by looking at it,” he said. “It wasn’t just a picture. It was a person.”

Miller has been in therapy for months, and hopes to continue the course by phone while behind bars. His defence claims he is highly unlikely to reoffend.

Yet Lakusta, prosecuting, said none of Miller’s therapy had – in her view – addressed the impact of his crime on the children whose photos and videos he collected.

Lakusta noted that one of the therapy exercises invited Miller to make a list of those people most hurt by his actions. Miller had, according to Lakusta, responded: “My son, myself, my family, friends, workmates and countless acquaintances.”

There had been no mention of the abused children.

Nobody appeared in the public gallery in support of Miller, who admitted he had considered suicide on being found out – to the point of visiting a hardware store to purchase a hose for his car exhaust. His credit card had been declined, which he took to be a spiritual ‘intervention’.

His son, he said, had made contact just once since his arrest: to ask that his father never speak to him again.

“He said he doesn’t know what to say or do,” reflected Miller. “But he hoped there would be a future somewhere.”

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