A lead detective in the Donnie Snook case says the convicted pedophile is among the worst of the worst he has seen anywhere in the world.

“One person who victimized so many children, I would put him right up at the top of people that I’ve been involved in, that have been arrested worldwide, because of the sheer number,” says Det. Paul Krawczyk.

“I’d put him right near the top, if not at the top.”

Snook, a former municipal politician and youth worker in Saint John, has admitted to sexually assaulting and making pornographic images of boys over a 12-year span.

He pleaded guilty in May to 46 charges including sexual assault and possessing, distributing and making child pornography.

The crimes, which began in January 2001 and went on until his arrest in January of this year, involved 17 boys, most of whom were from the Saint John area and between the ages of five and 15 at the time of the offences.

The 41-year-old Saint John man addressed provincial court at his sentencing hearing on Friday, apologizing for the years of "sadness and darkness" he created in the lives of 17 young kids.

His sentence will be handed down in five weeks.

Meanwhile, concerns are being raised for his victims after Crown lawyer Karen Lee Lamrock said only a few of them have decided to seek counselling.

“Who wants to say ‘I was sexually abused?’” says Elsie McGraw, a survivor of child sexual abuse. “I don’t understand this myself, but I kept the secret for 60 years. But then I started speaking out. It’s not easy. I can tell you it’s not easy.”

McGraw also organized a group that helps survivors of childhood sexual abuse. She says victims can often feel as if the crime has had no effect on them, but that’s not really the case.

“But all of a sudden, why don’t I trust people anymore? I wonder why that is? But of course, when you can go back and relate to ‘OK, that’s why, but I’m an adult now. I have choices. I didn’t have any choices as a child.’”

“We see in some kids it has tremendous impacts on them for years to come, for some kids, relatively little impact,” says Scott Ronis, a psychology professor at the University of New Brunswick.

Ronis says all victims react differently and sexual crimes may leave scars that don’t emerge for several years.

“Almost immediately after the sexual abuse there is what seems to be relatively little impact or superficially little impact, but then, all of a sudden, things might arise depending on situations,” he says.

Snook is due back in court for sentencing on Oct. 10.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Nick Moore and The Canadian Press