24 July 2023 |
(Warning: This article contains sensitive material.)
Brad Dahr, a 56-year-old former pastor in Vegreville, Alberta, has been sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual exploitation and creating child pornography, according to an article in CBC News. Justice Kevin Feth accepted the joint sentencing, delivering the decision on Friday morning. Dahr had previously led a mental health outreach program for young adults in his congregation, during which he developed a relationship with a teenage girl who came to rely on him for support with her mental health struggles.
Dahr began to manipulate the relationship with the teen, initially exchanging over 190,000 messages, none of which were initially sexual. However, in early 2020, the tone of the exchanges shifted and became sexual. To avoid detection, Dahr suggested that they switch between messaging platforms. He engaged in sexual activities with the teenager, who remains anonymous, due to a court-ordered publication ban, and exchanged explicit photos and videos, at times making specific requests for the content of the girl’s videos.
The abuse came to light when other members of the Seventh-day Adventist church congregation confronted Dahr on October 31, 2020. He subsequently sent a letter of resignation to church superiors, admitting to an inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Shortly afterwards, he expressed remorse to the teenager and instructed her to delete all explicit content from their shared file-hosting account. The teen complied but later recovered the files from a recently deleted folder.
In a court hearing, the victim’s impact statement was read by prosecutor Britta Kristensen. The victim expressed that her emotional and mental health had been significantly affected, and she had blamed herself for what had occurred. The victim’s mother also addressed the court, accusing Dahr of manipulating her daughter and expressing her feelings of anger, betrayal, and guilt. She urged Dahr to seek help to prevent similar harm to others in the future.
Dahr’s lawyer, Will van Engen, stated that his client had begun attending counseling and emphasized that Dahr’s criminal actions should not define him entirely, as he had been a loving father and had lost his career over his crimes. In court, Dahr expressed remorse, acknowledging that he deserved his punishment and had betrayed his family. He spoke of the consequences his actions had on his foster children, who had to be sent to another home.
The victim, while glad to see justice served, called for stricter penalties for such crimes, highlighting the lifelong impact on victims. She also noted her increased awareness of the prevalence of sexual assault, calling it a global problem. Her mother stated that she would never trust Dahr again and found his apologies meaningless.