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Canada: Jewish leader jailed for child pornography
Former B'nai Brith director Bill Surkis found in possession of 21 pornographic videos featuring prepubescent girls in 2008; to spend 45 days in prison as result of plea bargain deal
VANCOUVER – Bill Surkis, one of the most prominent figures in Montreal's Jewish community was convicted of possession of child pornography. As agreed in a plea bargain, Surkis will serve 45 days in prison on weekends.

 

Appearing in court on Saturday, Surkis expressed regret for hurting his family, friends and Jewish community. "I destroyed my life and parts of my family's life," he said.  

 

His attorneys filed a series of letters of support and character testimony reports from members of the Jewish community with the court. Former minister Gerry Weiner also wrote a letter of support which stressed Surkis's efforts for the community and the issue of civil rights.

 

Surkis, 71, previously served as director of B'nai Brith in Quebec and director of the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre. He also spent 47 years working in the Canadian education system.

 

In 2008, Surkis was caught in possession of 21 videos of a sexual nature featuring adult men and prepubescent girls. The materials were discovered by a lab technician who worked on fixing Surkis's computer. He was arrested and released under restrictions.

 

Last May, Surkis's attorney finalized a plea bargain with the prosecution forcing him to confess to possession of child pornography. It was decided that he spend 45 days in prison and do 240 hours of community service. He will also be under inspection for three years.

 

It has yet to be decided whether Surkis will be added to the sex offenders list and be prohibited from visiting public places frequented by children after he completes his prison sentence. A decision on the matter will be reached on December 9.

 

 

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