10/11/2016 09:55 EDT

Martin Schulz, Ontario Family Lawyer, Not Suspended After Child Porn Conviction

Ontario's Law Society Tribunal has decided not to suspend the legal licence of a Toronto-area family lawyer convicted of a child pornography offence.

It dismissed the application from the Law Society of Upper Canada, which argued Martin Schulz, who has an office in Mississauga, posed an elevated risk to the public based on his 2016 conviction.

The law society was seeking a temporary suspension of Schulz's licence pending a final review and decision on his status, but the tribunal disagreed with the society's position.

Low risk to reoffend

They said Schulz poses an extremely low risk to reoffend, has abided by all conditions imposed upon him since his arrest in 2013, and does not pose a risk to the public.

They found, however, that there was a risk of harm to the public interest in the administration of justice if there were no temporary restrictions placed on Schulz's family law practice.

For now, the tribunal said Schulz cannot represent anyone under the age of 18 or be alone with youth in connection with his practice with the exception of his two children.

The tribunal said such measures would be enough to mitigate the risk to the administration of justice, but was unequivocal that Schulz posed no threat to the public if allowed to continue practising law.

"We find no reasonable grounds for believing that a significant risk of harm to members of the public exists."

"The Lawyer has no history of any offence involving physical contact, and no other criminal history," the tribunal wrote in its decision handed down last month. "We find no reasonable grounds for believing that a significant risk of harm to members of the public exists."

Lawyers representing Schulz could not be reached. The law society would not comment on the ruling but said it is continuing its internal investigation and will determine if any penalties are warranted.

Schulz's legal saga began in November 2013 when he was arrested and charged with two counts of possession of child pornography and one count of making child pornography available, according to the tribunal decision.

Schulz was released on bail with strict conditions, including orders barring him from unsupervised contact with his children and preventing him from going online except for professional purposes.

Some of those conditions were relaxed in the run up to Schulz's trial, which got underway in January of this year.

Schulz admitted to having 101 photos

In March, he filed an admissions document in court and was ultimately convicted of one count of possession after the Crown withdrew the other two.

In that document, Schulz admitted to having 101 photos and 155 movies on his personal devices.

An interview with a law society investigator turned up more details.

"The Lawyer admitted to the investigator that he had viewed images of child pornography (mostly of young girls about 14 years of age) about once a week, for a few years, usually after his wife and children had gone to sleep,'' the tribunal decision reads.

"He was aware that possession of this material was illegal, and knew that what he did was wrong. He admitted that it was a very serious mistake, with disastrous consequences for himself and his family."

After this interview, the tribunal said Schulz underwent assessments with a psychologist that indicated he was in the "very low" risk category for similar offences and showed genuine remorse for and distress over his actions.

"He admitted that it was a very serious mistake, with disastrous consequences for himself and his family."

"There was no evidence that the lawyer had ever attempted to contact youth for sexual purposes, either online or through real life interactions, and there has never been any allegation of sexual contact," the tribunal wrote, adding that the psychologist described his sexual interest as "relatively conventional, if not restrained."

On May 31, Judge Gisele Miller sentenced Schulz to 45 days in jail to be served intermittently.

Schulz remains under investigation by the law society, though no disciplinary procedures are currently underway.

In its application seeking a temporary suspension of Schulz's licence, the law society argued that his family practice could bring him into contact with youth under the age of 18. They conceded that he was a low risk to reoffend, but maintained suspending his licence during the investigation would limit the risk of harm to the public.

Schulz's lawyers argued that he posed no risk and should be allowed to keep practising law, citing the sentence handed down by the judge and the results of psychological assessments.

"We are not persuaded and we find no objective basis for believing that, unless the lawyer's licence to practise were completely suspended, the public interest in the administration of justice would suffer a significant risk of harm," the tribunal wrote.

"We conclude that a restriction on the lawyer's practice will adequately and best address this risk."

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