Sentencing delayed again for former Better Business Bureau executive

Peter Alan Moorhouse, right, is seen at the provincial court in Shubenacadie, N.S., on Sept. 29, 2023. (Blair Rhodes/CBC - image credit)
Peter Alan Moorhouse, right, is seen at the provincial court in Shubenacadie, N.S., on Sept. 29, 2023. (Blair Rhodes/CBC - image credit)

The sentencing in Nova Scotia of a former executive with the Better Business Bureau who admitted to child pornography and sex offences has been delayed again amid questions about the children who were targeted.

Peter Alan Moorhouse, 50, pleaded guilty in July of 2022 to making child pornography and agreeing to commit a sexual offence against a child.

Moorhouse, who was with the Better Business Bureau of Atlantic Canada, was charged in January 2021, along with another man, Carlos Moraga, 38.

Moraga pleaded guilty to sexual interference and making child pornography. Last year, he was sentenced to 27 months in prison.

The child pornography charges against both men stem from emails they exchanged, in which they discussed sexually assaulting two children they knew. The conversation was so explicit it was declared pornographic and sealed by the courts.

Statement of facts

In an agreed statement of facts that was entered earlier in the sentencing process for Moorhouse, there was reference to a 12-year-old girl that he knew, and a 14-year-old girl that Moraga both knew and had access to.

But during a hearing Thursday morning in Nova Scotia provincial court in Shubenacadie, Judge Marc Chisholm said there were discrepancies in the evidence before him.

Moorhouse is claiming the 12-year-old girl he referenced in emails wasn't real, and the judge said there's doubt as to what he knew about the 14-year-old girl.

"There is a statement in the pre-sentence report and a statement in the psychological assessment indicating that Mr. Moorhouse takes the position that he did not believe that the 14-year-old child existed, and that is something that there is evidence, by way of the material before the court, for the court to consider," the judge said.

The judge also focused on two paragraphs in the agreed statement that Moorhouse signed that acknowledged that police had found images and videos on one of his computers that met the definition of child pornography.

Clarifications sought

Chisholm said he had questions he wanted lawyers to consider before the sentencing proceeds.

"Whether the court should find that Mr. Moorhouse did know or was willfully blind to the fact that there was a child to whom Mr. Moraga had access and who, in his communications, said he had sexually assaulted," the judge asked.

The judge also wants clarification about what information a forensic psychologist used in forming the report she prepared for the defence. In her report, Pamela Yates said Moorhouse was a low risk to reoffend.

The lawyers agreed they should get written clarification from Yates before the judge proceeds with sentencing. The case is now set to return to court on Feb. 22.