VERNON - A Vernon man kept nude photographs of girls as young as 11 on his cell phone, neatly organized into folders titled with their names.
Connor Dee, who according to online profiles is originally from Pritchard, near Kamloops, has been in custody for a year and a half after evidence contained on cell phones and laptops was seized at his residence. Dee pleaded guilty to several charges, including sexual interference of a person under 16, possession of child pornography, and communicating over the internet to lure a child under 18.
A police investigation was launched in 2011 after a young woman came forward to Ontario police. The girl, who cannot be named by court order, said she was 13 when her online and text message relationship with Dee began. At Dee’s request, she sent him revealing images of herself, but when she wanted to stop, he threatened to distribute them online or show her mother.
We have seen how tragedy ensues when young women are victimized by individuals who hold the power to circulate nude photos of them online. Rehtaeh Parsons, 17, committed suicide after an alleged gang rape and distribution of images of the assault. Amanda Todd from Port Coquitlam died under similar circumstances. Both their deaths have forced local and provincial governments across the country to consider legislative solutions to online bullying and exploitation.
Crown lawyer Cristina Cabulea outlined five victims, all of which had their own folder of photos on Dee’s phone. There were two cousins, 11 and 12, a 13-year-old, a 16 and 17-year-old. All the girls communicated with Dee through electronic means, text messages, Facebook or other social networking sites. One victim described the content in Dee’s messages as “sext rape”, or “sending sex texts to you without your permission,” Cabulea said. When one girl refused to send pictures of herself, he told her “if you love me you’ll trust me.”
During an in person meeting with Dee at a Kelowna park, an 11-year-old victim described being raped and photographed, Cabulea said. Those images were found on Dee’s phone.
A girl who met Dee at 16 and continued to communicate with him at 17, said he threatened to post nude photos of her around her hometown unless she sent him more images of her private parts. He told another girl he would get her friends fired from their jobs, beat them up, or destroy their houses unless she gave him what he wanted.
A psychiatric doctor testified Dee is at a high risk to reoffend. She said there was evidence of “cognitive rehearsal of rape scenarios” and indications of psychopathy, including narcissism and lack of both remorse and guilty feelings. She said he showed signs of escalation, first rehearsing rape scenarios in his mind, then talking about them. The next step could be putting them into action, she said.
Judge Mayland McKimm said what Dee had done to the girls was “vile” but wondered why they didn’t block his number or delete him from their social networks. If they were, in a sense trapped, he said the offenses were much more serious.
“If people like the accused are aware that people can’t get away from him, it’s a very serious aggravating circumstance. If (you) can’t block people, and that’s known to the accused, there’s a much more insidious and threatening element to the behaviour.”
While one girl said she made a failed attempt to block Dee’s number, Cabulea said most of the girls were too young to understand what to do.
McKimm is expected to sentence Dee on Tuesday. Cabulea and defense lawyer Jonathan Avis are presenting a joint submission of two years in jail, with a strict probation.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at email@example.com, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.
This story was edited at 5 p.m. Sept. 23 to include information from the afternoon court session.