Life and career
Sharpe grew up in Victoria, British Columbia. A bursary from the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire, enabled him to go to university and study architecture. He eventually gave up architecture and got interested in economics and political science and took postgraduate work in town planning. Sharpe provided an account of his career in his website:
"After working a dozen years as a planner in various parts of Canada he became a group home parent, got divorced, worked a dozen years as a self employed home renovation contractor, became a foster father, taught economics and social studies for four years at a visa college, and began writing and traveling at the age of fifty."
Sharpe also travelled extensively to the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand and recorded his experiences in Manilamanic: A Philippine Journal (2002). His writings, which often follow the transgressive traditions of Marquis de Sade and D.H. Lawrence, have appeared in the homosexually-themed magazines Passport and Sodomite Invasion Review. Sharpe is also known as an advocate for the legalization of recreational drugs and sexual relations between adults and minors.
Since April 1995 he has been working as a defendant in his continuing legal troubles.
Sharpe was arrested and charged with two counts of possessing child pornography and two counts of distributing child pornography in 1995 after police raided his apartment and found photographs of adolescents involved in sexual activity and journals and manuscripts depicting fictitious adolescents engaged in sexual activity. In January 1999, he was acquitted of the charge of possession of child pornography by the British Columbia Supreme Court and, in May 1999, the British Columbia Court of Appeal upheld the ruling by a 2-1 vote. The Court of Appeal stated that current child pornography laws "[are] truly one step removed from criminalizing simply having objectionable thoughts." Shortly thereafter, British Columbia appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada which, in the landmark ruling of R. v. Sharpe in January 2001, upheld most of the child pornography law but said that people can't be prosecuted for creating works of their own imagination for their own use.
The case went back to the British Columbia Supreme Court which ruled in March 2002 that Sharpe was not guilty of possession of child pornography related to his sexually-explicit writings but was guilty of two counts of possession of pornographic pictures of children. He was sentenced to four months of house arrest. British Columbia Supreme Court Judge Duncan Shaw condemned Sharpe's writings as "morally repugnant" but defended them as within Sharpe's legal rights because they "[did] not actively advocate or counsel the reader to engage in the acts described" and had "artistic merit". The ruling angered many family and child advocacy groups who claimed the "artistic merit" defense would open the door to wide-spread distribution of child pornography and limit the abilities of police forces to crack down on "child exploitation", therefore placing children at risk.
Later in 2002, Sharpe was arrested again on the charges of gross indecency and indecent assault stemming from activities which allegedly took place from 1979 to 1982. Pictures of a teenager, who was aged 11 through 14 during the alleged "assaults", were among the over 500 for which he had been previously charged. In 2004, Sharpe was found guilty of indecent assault and sentenced to two years in prison, which he has promised to appeal. He has maintained that the boy was never harmed and wanted to have sex. During the trial, the boy said, "I like Robin, but if somebody did that to my kids, I'd want to kill him."
List of works
- Rupert Unexpurgated (1983), semi-autobiographical novel
- Peter's Path (1986), novel
- Robin's Rude Songs and Poems (1990), poetry
- Politically Incorrect Poems and Songs (1992), poetry
- Life on the Corner: The Moon Eyed Beggar's Tale (1996), novel
- Recent Accumulations and Appropriated Voices (1997), poetry
- Remnants and Recoveries (1998), poetry
- Sam Paloc's BOYABUSE: Flogging, Fun & Fortitude 1982-1994 (2002), short stories
- Manilamanic: A Philippine Journal (2002), journals and prose
- R. v. Sharpe: A Personal Account (2002), personal account