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Psychologist testifies in child porn sentencing hearing for Peter Moorhouse

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The sentencing hearing for former Better Business Bureau of Atlantic Canada president Peter Moorhouse, who pleaded guilty to child pornography offences last year, is scheduled to resume in December.

Moorhouse, 50, pleaded guilty in July 2022 to making, printing, publishing or possessing child pornography, as well as making arrangements with a person to commit an offence with respect to a person under the age of 16 years.

The offences are in regard to a number of electronic messages involving teenage girls between Moorhouse and another man. Each charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of one year.

Moorhouse’s sentencing has been delayed multiple times as the court awaited a Supreme Court of Canada decision about the constitutionality of mandatory minimum sentences.

During a hearing Friday in Shubenacadie Provincial Court, the court heard that Moorhouse was allegedly sexually abused as a child, which negatively impacted his future intimate relationships and sexual behaviour.

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Defence witness Pamela Yates, a registered forensic psychologist who conducted a psychological risk assessment of Moorhouse, said he is of below average-to-average risk of reoffending sexually, and of low risk of reoffending in any other manner.

“My overall conclusion … was that Mr. Moorhouse’s risk can effectively be managed in the community with appropriate sanctions,” Yates said.

The risk assessment said Moorhouse did not report having a sexual interest in children, “and it appears to be corroborated that he has not acted out sexually against a child.”

“Rather, he appears to have committed the current offences in an attempt to resolve emotional turmoil and confusion related to sexual abuse he alleges to have experienced,” it said.

The assessment recommended that Moorhouse take part in a sexual offender-specific program, such as those offered by Correctional Service of Canada and Nova Scotia Health/Department of Justice, as well as individual therapy.

Judge Marc Chisholm set aside Dec. 4 for any further oral arguments, with a possible decision scheduled for Jan. 11.

Another man involved

Moorhouse was charged in early 2021 following the search of another man’s home in Enfield.

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According to a partially redacted agreed statement of facts, police searched Carlos Ayapal Gonzalez Moraga’s home in January of that year after “inappropriate messages” were found on his cell phone regarding a 14-year-old girl he knew.

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The messages were between Moraga and Moorhouse, who was using an alias, and discussed the 14-year-old as well as a 12-year-old.

The Nova Scotia Internet Child Exploitation Unit were able to identify Moorhouse by searching Moraga’s Outlook email account in early February.

“Review of the messages between Moorhouse and Moraga revealed more conversations from January 2021,” the statement of facts said, “where Moorhouse and Moraga talk about having sex with a 14-year-old girl and how Moorhouse would like to watch Moraga have sex with the 12-year-old.”

There were nearly 250 emails between the two men.

A search warrant was executed at Moorhouse’s home, where police found deleted images and videos on what was believed to be his work computer “that meet the definition of child pornography.”

In the days that followed his arrest, the BBB announced its board had unanimously voted to terminate Moorhouse’s employment with cause.

Moraga was also charged with sexual interference and making child pornography. In June, he was sentenced to a total of 27 months in prison.