Saint John councillor subject of earlier complaint
Published Friday, January 11, 2013 6:56PM AST
Last Updated Friday, January 11, 2013 7:20PM AST
A Fredericton archdeacon says a Saint John city councillor facing charges of child pornography and sexual touching was the subject of an earlier complaint.
“I believe there was a leave of absence several years ago and there were some allegations made at that time, but there was nothing the diocese was involved in,” says Archdeacon Geoffrey Hall of the Anglican Diocese of Fredericton.
Coun. Donnie Snook, 40, is facing three counts of sexual interference on a child under 16 years of age, two counts of possession of child pornography, one count of making child pornography and two counts of making child pornography available.
He was arrested at his Martha Avenue home Wednesday after police executed a search warrant and seized several items, including computer equipment and children sexual abuse images, during their search.
Hall says he is unable to describe the nature of the complaint, but says the diocese will be investigating to see if the previous allegations against Snook were properly dealt with.
Snook directed the Chicken Soup Club, which provides a daily hot meal for youth and is an important program in low-income neighbourhoods.
“Whether this man is found innocent, convicted, either way, the Chicken Noodle Soup Club, or any other organization that he has run or had a part in, should not suffer because of this,” says Janet McLaughlin of the Crescent Valley Tenants Association.
It was in low-income neighbourhoods such as Crescent Valley that Snook built up a reputation as a vocal advocate for underprivileged children.
Though he is now facing serious criminal charges involving youth, Snook could potentially remain on city council.
Under provincial law, a councillor only loses his or her seat if they are convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment of five years or more.
“I’ve known Donnie for the past four or five years and it’s taken me aback,” says Saint John Coun. Bill Farren.
Farren and Snook were the only two city councillors re-elected in the last election.
“My opinion is, if Donnie wants to step down, then Donnie can step down,” says Farren. “If he doesn’t want to step down, if he feels he’s innocent, then he should be able to maintain his seat until proven otherwise.”
As for the Chicken Soup Club, the Inner City Youth ministry board issued a statement today saying the program will continue to receive funding and will remain in place at all three schools.
Snook’s lawyer, Dennis Boyle, tells CTV News they will be asking for a release on bail during the hearing on Monday and says a release would likely come with strict conditions.
Boyle also says he has seen very little of the evidence police are compiling against his client, so there is little chance that Snook will be entering a plea on Monday.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron