December 02, 2014 - 4:12 PM
KAMLOOPS – The three 15-year-old students who pleaded guilty to criminal harassment charges for coaxing nude photos from female classmates and sharing them with others will likely escape criminal sanction.
At a sentencing hearing in Kamloops Youth Court today, they were handed a conditional discharge, meaning the criminal charges will be expunged if they successfully complete a six-month probation.
Provincial Court Judge Roy Dickey said the original charges of distributing child pornography and ensuing media coverage have already had a detrimental effect on the youths involved. The three were initially charged after the RCMP investigation into an exchange of nude photographs of underaged female classmates launched in January. Dickey said he was not sentencing the youths for distributing the photographs, but rather for the "persistent and persuasive" criminal harassment behaviour the boys used to obtain the images.
Dickey said the investigation determined 32 girls and 25 boys were involved in the exchange of photos which were shared throughout more than one school in Kamloops. One girl sent 50 images to six different individuals.
In some circumstances, Dickey said the way the boys obtained the images was "immature and demeaning," but added in some circumstances the females presented the images readily. One of the youths sent nude images of himself.
All three males, through their counsel, provided written character references to the court. Dickey said one of the letters from a school principal stood out to him as it said a large number of students were involved in sharing sexual images. There were no victim impact statements submitted to the court from any of those whose photos were shared. Dickey said he could not base his sentencing only on assumptions of the damage done.
"I accept that all these youths are remorseful for their actions and have shown increased maturity and insight," Dickey said. He added that he accepted defence's submission that exploration of sexuality is very common during puberty but said "the distinguishing aspect between mere exploration is the use of persistent and persuasive communication with the females in an attempt to obtain disclosure of the photos."
The three, who cannot be named due to a mandatory publication ban, will serve their sentences in the community under a six-month probation. The terms of the probation include receiving direction from a youth worker, not contacting specific people linked to the photos except for an apology and not possessing a cellphone that has data or picture messaging features enabled.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014