This guidance is concerned with the production, exhibition, possession or distribution, including by electronic means, of child pornography, as well as by the recruitment of or inducement of a minor or a vulnerable person to participate in pornographic exhibitions is a crime in civil and in canon law (see Appendix C). For further information regarding other risks to children online see GAP paper 1.

Definition

In canon law “child pornography” means: any representation of a minor, regardless of the means used, involved in explicit sexual activities, whether real or simulated, and any representation of sexual organs of minors for primarily sexual purposes.

A listing of the main Acts, Statutory Orders and Regulations is outlined in the Table below:

This most recent piece of legislation has in its introductory description that it is An Act to give effect to Directive No. 2011/93/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011.
The following offences are defined in the 2017 Act, along with the punishments available to a court if a person is found to be guilty of any of them:

Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017

This most recent piece of legislation has in its introductory description that it is An Act to give effect to Directive No. 2011/93/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011.
The following offences are defined in the 2017 Act, along with the punishments available to a court if a person is found to be guilty of any of them:

  • Obtaining, providing etc. a child for purpose of sexual exploitation (‘child’ is person under 18 years);
  • Invitation etc. to sexual touching (‘child’ is a person under 15 years);
  • Sexual activity in presence of child (‘child’ is a person under 17 years);
  • Causing child to watch sexual activity (‘child’ is a person under 17 years);
  • Meeting child for purpose of sexual exploitation (‘child’ is a person under 17 years);
  • Use of information and communication technology to facilitate sexual exploitation of child (‘child’ is a person under 17 years);
  • Amendment of S.2 of Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998 – extended definition of ‘child pornography’;
  • Amendment of S.3 of Act of 1998 – extended definition of ‘sexual exploitation’;
  • Amending S.4 of Act of 1998 – changed definition of actions involved in organising etc. child prostitution or production of child pornography;
  • Amending S.5 of Act of 1998 – changed definition of producing, distributing, etc. child pornography;
  • Amending S.5 of Act of 1998 – adding to definition of participation of child in pornographic performance; Amending S.6 of Act of 1998 – changed definition of possession of child pornography;
  • Amending S.5 of Act of 1998 – changed definition of producing, distributing, etc. child pornography;
  • Amending S.5 of Act of 1998 – adding to definition of participation of child in pornographic performance;
  • Amending S.6 of Act of 1998 – changed definition of possession of child pornography;
  • Amending S.1 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2006 – changed definition of ‘person in authority’;
  • Amending S. 2 of Act of 2006 – changed definition of sexual act with child under 15 years of age;
  • Amending S.3 of Act of 2006 – changed definition of sexual act with child under 17 years of age;

There are further minor amendments of other previous legislation contained in the 2017 Act.

Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998

The Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998, which is amended by Section 6 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Act 2007, deals with a number of offences involving children under the age of 17.

These include:

  • Child trafficking and taking a child for sexual exploitation.
  • Meeting a child for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
  • Allowing a child to be used for child pornography.
  • Producing, distributing, printing or publishing child pornography.
  • Possession of child pornography.

Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2006

This Act defines the offences of Defilement of child under 15 years of age, and Defilement of child under the age of 17 years. The Act of 2006 also amends a number of previous Acts.

Process

If a concern, suspicion, knowledge or allegation is made against a cleric or religious which relates to the abuse of a child through pornography, the process outlined in guidance 4.34 – Guidance on Reporting Allegations of Abuse, must be followed.

A Church authority who has knowledge, a concern, suspicion or allegation should consult the Gardai/PSNI to establish if an examination of all electronic devises belonging to the respondent can be conducted.

The process of investigation by the statutory authorities must be concluded first.

Post investigation by statutory authorities

Upon the conclusion of any statutory investigation, a preliminary investigation/collection of the proofs under canon law should be initiated (See Guidance under Standard 4). If the Gardai/ PSNI decide not to pursue such an examination, the permission of the respondent must be sought for a private company to undertake this task.

If the respondent refuses permission for a search of his use of digital devices, the advice of the Church body’s advisory panel or the NCMC should be sought in assessing the risk posed by the respondent.

Evidence obtained from a search of the respondent’s digital devices should be included to ascertain if a crime as identified in canon law has been committed.

If the search identifies accessing child pornography, the preliminary investigation/collection of proofs should conclude that the respondent has a case to answer. In such circumstances Guidance 4.46 should be followed for clerics and Guidance 4.3D for religious.

If the search does not identify the respondent accessing child pornography, further investigation may be necessary to establish whether there is a case to answer (for clerics -Guidance 4.49 and for religious- 4.42 & 4.53).

If at the end of the preliminary investigation/collection of proofs there is no case to answer, steps should be taken to restore the respondents good name following Guidance 4.42 for clerics and 4.53 for religious.