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COURTENAY, B.C. — A former Fort St. John resident was sentenced to almost six months in prison on Thursday after pleading guilty to two child pornography charges.

Aaron Farough, a 36-year-old itinerant church minister, was charged back in February 2019 with possession of child pornography, importing/distributing child pornography and accessing child pornography.

The charges stem back to when Farough was staying at the home of one of his parishioners in Courtenay. He was found guilty of two charges — importing/distributing child pornography and accessing child pornography.

The Comox Valley Record (CVR) reported that during Farough’s missionary work, he would stay with members of his church at their homes, which is where he accessed and distributed child pornography.

An anonymous source — who reportedly listened to Farough’s pre-sentencing hearing via Zoom on December 12th — told the outlet that Farough’s ministry has no formal name but is known as “The 2×2’s” due to ministers travelling in pairs. It is also allegedly known as “The Truth” or “The Way” and has its origins in 19th-century Ireland.

According to CVR, there are no official headquarters for the ministry. Instead, each country has a primary overseer who manages operations. In Canada, there is an overseer in every province.

The outlet said that globally, the ministry is “rife with systemic and intergenerational sexual abuse.”

The source told CVR that while most evidence was gathered against him in Courtenay, Farough spent nearly two years visiting parishioners “from Port Hardy to Powell River and down to Nanaimo.”

The pre-sentencing hearing detailed how Farough used a smartphone to access, download and distribute child pornography at his parishioner’s home in Courtenay on February 17th, 2019.

RCMP intercepted the images and launched its investigation into the IP address Farough was using.

He was found to have shared 28 of 32 images of child pornography. Analysis shows that the children in the pictures and videos were all female ranging in age from four to 12 years of age.

According to CVR, a naked man (who was not identified as Farough) was also performing sexual acts against the children in the images and videos.

The crown counsel, Mark Crisp, said that as a minister, Farough held a position of authority.

In an effort to presumably illustrate the power that Farough had due to his position, Crisp repeated a statement previously made by the minister himself — “If I didn’t have access to this phone, I wouldn’t have accessed child porn. If I hadn’t been in such private settings, I wouldn’t have distributed child porn.”

The defence attorney for Farough, Owen James, said that Farough — who now resides in Lethbridge — told his church of his actions when the allegations surfaced. He was then reportedly removed from the ministry but remained in the fellowship.

CVR reports that Farough has since attended nearly twenty sessions with an Alberta psychologist focusing on his “sexual issues.”

His psychiatric assessment suggests that the celibate nature of the ministry contributed to his “sexual issues,” with Farough stating his actions online didn’t align with his values, but he couldn’t stop when he was bored.

He said he accessed child pornography because he was “curious.”

Despite the crown seeking seven months, Farough was sentenced to 175 days in prison, followed by one year of probation. He is prohibited from working or volunteering with any child under 16, must comply with the Sex Offender Act and will be on the registry for 20 years. He was also ordered to provide a DNA sample while in prison.

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Spencer HallInvestigative Reporter

Spencer Hall is a news reporter for energeticcity.ca and a recent graduate of the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Radio Arts & Entertainment program. Growing up in Northwest B.C. made Spencer aware of the importance of local journalism, independent media, and reconciliation. In his spare time, you can find Spencer reading, playing video games, or at the FSJ dog park with his dog, Teddy.