Loon Lake Man sentenced to five years in prison for child porn, luring children

WARNING: This story contains details that may be disturbing to some. Discretion is advised.

A Loon Lake man was sentenced to five years in prison for possession of child pornography and child luring.

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Steven Joseph Lasas, 26, hung his head throughout most of his sentencing hearing in Saskatoon Provincial Court on July 7 that lasted almost two hours.

Lasas contacted youth living in central and Northern Saskatchewan including North Battleford, Meadow Lake and Lloydminster, through Facebook that he met through coaching. He coerced them into masturbating for him on video chats. He also had them send explicit photos of themselves and he sent explicit photos of himself to the youth. He convinced one youth to meet and he sexually assaulted him in 2019.

Lasas met the youth through his coaching position and work as a teacher’s aide. Lasas offered one youth $30, a cell phone and a cab ride in exchange for sex.

Lasas was arrested in January at a Saskatoon hotel where he was staying with his girlfriend after a grandmother notified Saskatoon Police she thought her young grandson was being lured online.

Lasas remained in custody since his arrest and pleaded guilty in April.

Crown prosecutor Lana Morelli told the court that Saskatchewan Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) investigators contacted Facebook to obtain the IP address of the Facebook page being used to exploit children. Multiple IP addresses were being used out of Saskatchewan and Alberta.

“A masking agent was utilized so the whereabouts was unknown,” said Morelli.

But police were able to identify Lasas because the IP address where the Facebook account was originally created was where he previously lived.

Morelli said Lasas was a coach and teacher’s aide.

The court heard that Lasas was fired as a teacher’s aide for similar accusations, which he denied.

Morelli said Lasas used fake Facebook profiles posing as a girl to talk to the victims and convince them to meet Lasas.

“There are probably more victims,” said Morelli.

Defence Marie-Therese Bayda said after hearing all the facts it’s difficult not to see her client as a villain and evil man.

“Those facts are harsh,” she said.

But she added that Lasas “is not a villain and not a demonic individual. He is a very sick man who needs help and he is the first to admit that he is sick and needs some help.”

Bayda told the court that Lasas himself was a victim of a violent sexual assault when he was nine years old.

“He kept the dark secret of his own abuse from his family for a long time.”

Lasas stood and apologized to the court.

“I do regret everything I have done. There is no justice for what I have done. I know what I did was wrong and I’m accepting responsibility for that.”

The Crown read three victim impact statements for the court.

One victim wrote that the assaults made him confused about his sexuality.

Another victim said he now gets nervous around older guys, doesn’t use social media much anymore, and is afraid to make new friends or participate in extra-curricular activities at school.

Bayda said Lasas takes responsibility for his actions and shows remorse.

The Crown and defence submitted a joint submission of a five-year prison sentence.

Judge Bauer said children are one of the most vulnerable groups in society.

“The effects (of sexual abuse) on victims can be devastating,” said Judge Bauer.

“These are grave offences. These offences were planned and there was some forethought involved. Making another Facebook account in other names to encourage youth to do what you wanted them to do shows planning on your part. You were prepared to go to lengths to get what you wanted.

“You were in a position of trust with some of these people,” continued Judge Bauer. “You got to know them through teaching, and parents and guardians allowed you to have contact and you exploited that position of trust. They considered you to be a trusted friend.”

Judge Bauer, in sentencing, said he took mitigating factors into consideration including the fact that Lasas didn’t have a criminal record, cooperated with the police, entered an early guilty plea, and stayed in custody without trying to get bail.

“You have kept these children from having to testify and that is not insignificant.”

Judge Bauer acknowledged Lasas’ involvement in the community, interest in furthering his education and strong cultural beliefs.

“This indicates you are a person prepared to accept responsibility and move past it in the future. This is important for the public safety in the long term.

“You have been subject to sexual violence yourself at a young age and that is a factor that I take into consideration as well,” said Judge Bauer.

Lasas was given eight months and 11 days credit for the 169 days he served while in remand, which is time-and-half credit. Lasas has 51 months and 19 days to serve as of July 7.

Lasas was ordered to provide a DNA sample for the national DNA database and he will be listed on the sex offender registry for life. He will be prohibited from working or volunteering in any capacity with children under the age of 16. For 10 years after he is released he will be prohibited from being near any daycare, schoolyard or playground.

“Mr. Lasas you will serve your sentence,” said Judge Bauer. “You will get past this. You have support of your family; they indicated they are in it for the long term. With the support of your family you can become a productive member of society. I encourage you to keep that in mind as you serve your sentence and focus on what you need to do.”

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