The sex abuse case against
former Saint John councillor Donnie Snook is one of the worst
in New Brunswick's history.
Snook, 41, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to 46 child
exploitation charges involving 17 boys as young as five years
By comparison, Karl Toft, who is considered one of Canada's
most notorious sex offenders, was convicted in 1992 of 34
abuse charges involving 18 boys at New Brunswick's Kingsclear
Youth Training Centre, where he worked as a guard.
The police investigation of Snook, who also served as a
youth ministry leader, a foster parent and and an active
community volunteer, is ongoing.
The case has left people in Saint John reeling.
"I'm just disgusted," said Shaylene Scott, who
was at a south end park with two children in tow when the news
"I really can't even believe it," she said. "I'm
glad he pleaded guilty and can own up to what he did, but I
just still can't believe he did it."
The charges against Snook include sexual assault, sexually
touching a minor while in a position of trust, making child
pornography, and extortion.
Police say the crimes began in 2001 and involved 17 boys
between the ages of five and 15, most of who were from the
Saint John area.
The investigation started in Toronto in 2011 when an RCMP
officer discovered an unknown person in the Saint John area
trading child pornography online.
"That's shocking really, to say the least," said
Tim Maloney, who was out enjoying the sunshine when he heard
about the guilty pleas.
"I think the whole community is kind of taken aback,"
he said. "Everybody‘s kind of going, 'Wow.'"
"If you’ve ever met Donnie, I mean, to look at
him you’d never think that he’d be able to do
something like that, but the world’s full of crazy
Brandon Irving said when he first heard about Snook being
arrested in January and charged with eight offences, he didn't
"That can't be," he recalled thinking. "He
did great things for the community with the [Bacchus] bikers
and the [Rainbow] park and everything and then just one day,
boom, Donnie Snook being arrested?"
"'That must be a set up or something.' That's what
you're thinking in your mind," said Irving.
But in the days following Snook's arrest, police said
several other people came forward, alleging they had also been
abused by Snook. The two-term councillor promptly resigned and
was suspended as director of the Saint John Inner City Youth
"With an image like that, it seemed nearly impossible
to hide that kind of secret," said Irving. "And then
today, 46 charges."
"It came as a surprise to all of us," said Josh
Yeomans, who was shooting hoops with Irving and three other
friends on Wednesday.
"We all grew up with the guy. Being around him all our
lives, I mean, we just didn’t think something like this
would happen," he said.
"We thought he was a good guy and he was always
devoted towards kids … and the city, but …we can
understand why now, I guess.”
Alex Vlamakis said he never thought Snook would even be
capable of such horrors.
"He was the kind of guy that you thought would never
even swear, let alone do something like that," he said.
"His whole life was devoted to kids. His entire life,
you know what I mean? So that’s hard to swallow."
Vlamakis said it's good Snook admitted to what he did, "but
there's no way he can make up — ever — for any of
the things he did."
"All the children he affected, they’re going to
be affected for their entire lives," he said. "He
tricked our whole community."
Defence hopes community can heal
Snook's defence lawyer, Dennis Boyle, said he hopes his
client's guilty pleas will serve as the first step toward
"It's a long path before us that we're going down that
road and it's going to take a great deal of wisdom," he
"We're going to have to use the new knowledge of
pedophilia, we're going to have to be strong going through
that and we have to be accepting and we're hoping that there's
going to be great growth for all concerned," said Boyle.
"Healing and rehabilitation and forgiveness are some
of the things that we have to look at in these things if we're
ever going to make a difference and ever try to breach and
break this cycle."
Snook remains in custody and is scheduled to return to
court on June 25 to set a date for a sentencing hearing.
The facts of the case will be relayed during that hearing.
Meanwhile, Crown prosecutor Karen Lee Lamrock has requested
victim impact statements and a pre-sentence report, which will
assess Snook's risk of reoffending.
Lamrock, who described the "magnitude" of the
case as "shocking," declined to comment on the
length of sentence she plans to recommend.
Many of the charges against Snook carry a minimum sentence
of one year in jail and a maximum sentence of 10 years in
Karl Toft was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
The charges against Snook include:
- Thirteen counts of touching a child for a sexual purpose.
- Nine counts of producing child pornography.
- Ten counts of inviting touching from a child for a sexual
- Four counts of communicating with a child for a sexual
- Three counts of touching a child for a sexual purpose
while in a position of trust.
- Two counts of sexual assault.
- Two counts of possession of child pornography.
- Two counts of distributing child pornography.
- One count of inducing a child by threats to distribute or
post naked pictures of himself
Empathy, love, hope and so much more for all who continue to
breath in and out in the belief that “It does get