A Saskatoon man once known as a high-achieving student with ambitions of becoming a doctor was sentenced Friday on child pornography charges.
Justin Gryba, 27, pleaded guilty in March to two counts of making child pornography and two counts of possessing child pornography.
The charges stem from Gryba’s arrest in November 2011. At that time, police were able to charge Gryba with possessing child pornography and with making it available to others, based on files they recovered from his computers. Gryba pleaded guilty to those charges in 2013, and was sentenced to two years in jail.
At that time, police couldn’t access a pair of heavily encrypted external hard drives owned by Gryba.
Police eventually cracked the hard drives and charged Gryba again in September 2014, while he was on parole from his previous sentence.
On the hard drives, police found nearly 10,000 images and videos of children – some just toddlers – engaged in graphic sex acts. They also found videos Gryba secretly took of boys he volunteered with.
Eleven of those videos were of boys changing in the locker room at a swimming pool. Another video showed a boy using the bathroom in Gryba’s house. Although the videos did not show the boys engaging in sexual activity, they are still classified as child pornography because they focused on the children’s genital areas.
Judge: ‘Words cannot begin to express the vile and [depraved] nature” of recordings
Delivering his decision on Friday, Chief Justice Martel Popescul began by listing aggravating factors that would contribute to a harsher sentence.
First and foremost, he said the youth of the victims and the horrible nature of the images weighed heaviest against Gryba.
“Words cannot begin to express the vile and [depraved] nature of these sickening and disgusting recordings,” Popescul said as Gryba sat with his head bowed.
Popescul went on to quote a judge from another child pornography case who described images as: “vile in nature to the point of being ‘life changing’ in their effect upon one’s psyche.”
Popescul said the quantity of material was also an aggravating factor. Gryba was given the benefit of the doubt that images on the hard drives could be doubles of ones he was already prosecuted for in his earlier case. Even still, that left Gryba charged with possessing 9,775 new files.
“This represents 9,775 child victims. The material was repugnant, disturbing and reprehensible,” Popescul said.
On the other side, Popescul said there were factors weighing in Gryba’s favour. He pointed to Gryba’s previous record as an outstanding student, with a 90 per cent average while attending the U of S and planning to go to medical school. He also credited Gryba’s family for providing a strong source of support.
Popescul noted Gryba has been listed as a low risk to re-offend by a clinical psychologist who has seen him 44 times since December 2011. He also pointed to sex offender treatment Gryba has taken while in jail. He quoted a worker from one of Gryba’s programs who praised his participation and said he had a rigorous plan to prevent a relapse.
In its submissions, the Crown asked for a five year sentence. The defence asked for a two years, which would work out to time served as Gryba has been in custody since his arrest in 2014.
Popescul sentenced Gryba to 53 months incarceration. With one-and-a-half times credit for the time he’s spent on remand, Gryba is left with two years left to serve.
Popescul said the sentence would keep Gryba out of the federal system and would allow him to impose probation conditions for Gryba’s release.
When he gets out, Gryba will be on probation for three years. He will be registered as a sex offender and has to provide a DNA sample to a federal database.
Gryba will also be banned for five years from going to parks, pools, schools or other places where people under 16 could be, unless he’s with a sober adult who is aware of his conviction.
Speaking outside the courtroom, Bodnar said it was key that his client was being allowed to stay in provincial jail in Saskatoon, where he can continue seeing his psychologist.