Montreal Jewish leader arrested


TORONTO (JTA) — A prominent member of Montreal’s Jewish community has been arrested on child pornography charges.

Bill Surkis, a former Quebec director of B’nai Brith Canada, appeared in a Montreal courtroom Friday after police allegedly found 23 suspicious videos on his computer, which he had taken to a repair shop to check for viruses. A shop employee alerted police.

Surkis faces one count of accessing child pornography and another for possession. A former director of the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, Surkis, 69, spent a night in jail before appearing in front of a judge.

Asked by reporters what impact his arrest will have on Montreal’s Jewish community, Surkis said, "They’re going to be disappointed. They know me as a staunch individual. They know that I’ve stood for what is right. I continue to stand for what is right.

 "That’s why we’re doing the things that we’re doing so that we can clear my name."

As a condition of his bail, Surkis must stay away from children under the age of 18 in private locations unless another adult, who is aware of the charges against him, is present. He is forbidden from accessing the Internet unless it is for work and, in such cases, may not erase the Web history from his computer.

He is also barred from leaving the province.

Surkis, who now works as a consultant, is scheduled to return to court on Sept. 24.

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