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Judge says St. Jude’s man’s characterization of crimes downplays them

Oral Clarke is seen in provincial court in Corner Brook on Monday afternoon prior to the start of his sentencing hearing on charges of possession of child pornography and child luring.
Oral Clarke is seen in provincial court in Corner Brook on Monday afternoon prior to the start of his sentencing hearing on charges of possession of child pornography and child luring.

Judge Wayne Gorman rejected a St. Jude’s man’s characterization of his crimes as a stupid decision.

In sentencing Oral Clarke to a total of 20 months in jail in provincial court on Wednesday afternoon, Gorman said that mischaracterizes his criminal activity.
Clarke, 65, pleaded guilty during an earlier court appearance to unlawfully luring a child under the age of 18 by means of a computer system and possession of child pornography.
Gorman broke the sentence down to 12 months on the child luring charge and eight months on the possession of child pornography, to be served consecutively.
Clarke sat in the prisoner’s box with his head tilted down as Gorman read his decision.
Clarke created a false Facebook page using the name Ammon Charlebois and identified himself as a 12-year-old junior high student.
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In October 2015 he initiated contact with an 11-year-old girl and engaged in sexually explicit conversations with her. He persuaded the girl to send him pictures of her breasts and vagina, and sent her pictures of an adult penis.
Gorman said the offences committed by Clarke, like all those committed by offenders who use the Internet to have sexual contact with children, involved planning and premeditation.
He said the Internet provides previously unavailable ways of communicating with, stalking and ultimately abusing children.
“What occurred here was not an accident or a mistake. It was not, as Mr. Clarke described it, a foolish act, a stupid decision or a fantasy.”
He said Clarke purposely set out to have sexual discussions with teenage children, and he must have known that pretending to be in junior high would attract the attention of young girls.
“This was his intent.”
Gorman said his characterization of his crimes downplays them and illustrates a failure by him to properly understand the seriousness of his crimes.
Gorman noted Clarke was once considered an upstanding member of his community. He is a former Lions Club member and former owner of the Tim Hortons franchise in Deer Lake. It was stated during the first part of his sentencing hearing on Monday that both groups have severed ties with him.
In addition to jail time, Gorman ordered Clarke to serve three-years probation, to begin at the end of his sentence. He has to submit a sample of his DNA and cannot work or volunteer in any capacity that would involve him being in a position of trust or authority with anyone under the age of 16 for 10 years. He’s not to have contact with anyone under the age of 16 unless in the presence of an adult over 21, with the exception of his grandchildren, as allowed by their parents.
He is prohibited from using the Internet to contact anyone under 16, except his grandchildren as allowed by their parents, must not have contact with his victim and must register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registry Act for life.

dcrocker@thewesternstar.com
Twitter: WS_DianeCrocker
 

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