TORONTO — A Canadian-born man who was jailed in Florida for viewing child pornography has moved one step closer to practising law in Ontario.
The tribunal of the Law Society of Upper Canada ruled in a written decision last week that Ronald Ori Davidovic was of "good character," allowing his licensing application to proceed.
The document says Davidovic, who was born in Montreal and moved to Miami with his family as a child, was working as general counsel for a telecommunications company in Florida when he was arrested in early 2004 following a police search of his home.
The decision says investigators seized his computers, where they found images and videos of children and teenagers as well as regular pornography.
"I do not believe the evidence shows on a balance of probabilities that he is rehabilitated nor that he fully comprehends victim empathy or remorse.''
— Paul M. Cooper
A spokeswoman for the law society said Friday that the tribunal only ruled on Davidovic's "good character" — a requirement for licencing — but the man's application was still ongoing. She acknowledged, however, that the language of the decision had caused some confusion over whether Davidovic had been granted permission to practise law.
Davidovic, who is in his 40s, has completed more than 300 hours of mandated therapy and more than 500 hours of additional therapy, and started volunteering with an organization that educates media, legislators and the public about issues relating to sex offenders, Anand and Richardson said.
"It has been over 13 years since the commission of the offences, and nine years since the applicant completed his sentence. He has tried to reinvent himself, with a significant measure of success thus far, to make a new life," they wrote.
"The applicant's conduct in the years preceding 2004 was reprehensible, but it is not an automatic or permanent bar to his admission, given the evidence and positions of the parties, and in light of the applicant’s determination to be an ethical and productive lawyer."
'Insufficient evidence' of rehabilitation: panel member
One panel member opposed the decision, arguing Davidovic had failed to clear all doubts about his good character and his credibility.
While Davidovic provided reports by a social worker and a forensic psychologist, among others, that indicated his chance of relapse was very low, those were written several years ago, Paul M. Cooper wrote.
"There is insufficient evidence that the applicant is rehabilitated. The misconduct was sexually motivated and he possessed a magnetic attraction. He has been diagnosed with non-specified paraphilia and this diagnosis remains unresolved," Cooper said.
"I do not believe the evidence shows on a balance of probabilities that he is rehabilitated nor that he fully comprehends victim empathy or remorse."
Intends to practise criminal law
Davidovic acknowledged at his hearing that the public "would have a valid concern that his actions affected his integrity" and that he had been "selfish and arrogant," the tribunal decision said.
But he stressed that he had "gained greater empathy for vulnerable individuals, and an understanding of victimization, as a result of going through the criminal justice system" and had shifted his priorities from material success to helping others and maintaining support systems.
Davidovic started looking at child pornography in 1998 and, while the frequency may have waned somewhat after his marriage that year, he continued to do so until late 2003, the document said.
The panel says he intends to practise criminal law and "believes that his experience will enable him to assist others." Davidovic has also said he is willing to restrict his practice to adults only but the panel did not say whether it would require him to do so.
CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this story said the tribunal of the Law Society of Upper Canada had granted him permission to practise law. In fact, the tribunal only ruled that the man was of "good character," allowing his licensing application to proceed.