Former B.C. pastor sentenced to 14 months in jail in child pornography case

Johannes 'John' Vermeer is shown in an undated photo from the British Columbia Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches website.

A former pastor in B.C.'s Fraser Valley has been sentenced following an investigation into allegations relating to child pornography.

Johannes "John" Vermeer, who previously preached at the Main Street Church in Chilliwack, was sentenced to 14 months behind bars.

He'd been charged back in 2018 with two counts each of accessing and possession of child sexual abuse. Vermeer resigned when he was charged, and was later found guilty.

The 61-year-old was sentenced Wednesday to jail time, and will be expected to serve another 18 months of probation. Additionally, he'll be placed on the sex offender registry for 10 years.

At the time the charges were announced, the Upper Fraser Valley Regional Detachment of the RCMP said its investigation started in 2015. Mounties called it a "very technology-based" investigation into offences dating back to 2010 and 2012, as well as that year.

The lead pastor told CTV News in 2018 that the congregation was informed of the charges a short time before they were made public, and that it was "shocking" for the church's more than 1,000-person flock.

Still, Main Street Pastor Shawn Vandop said it was the church that initially reported the allegations, following a tip from an outside company that monitors its computers.

Vandop said the RCMP was called immediately, and the computers were confiscated. At that time, he said, there were no suspect names or other details given to those at the church.

Charges were not announced for three years, something Vandop called a source of frustration, as Vermeer continued to work at the church until a month before he was charged.

Vandop said Vermeer did not work with children in his role at the church, of which he was a founder.