Judge insists Shuswap teenager who shared intimate video of 16-year-old girlfriend deserves a criminal record | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Judge insists Shuswap teenager who shared intimate video of 16-year-old girlfriend deserves a criminal record

August 20, 2020 - 6:00 PM

A Shuswap teenager who shared an intimate video of his 16-year-old girlfriend on Snapchat will get a criminal record after the judge said other young people needed to realize how serious and harmful the behaviour was.

The defence had argued the 19-year-old's remorse and lack of malicious intent meant he should be granted a conditional discharge - meaning he would not receive a criminal record. 

However, the judge said that wasn't enough.

"This will send a message to like-minded offenders that the consequences of their behaviour will at the very least be a matter of public record for the deterrent effect that that brings," the judge said.

At the Salmon Arm courthouse Aug. 20, the court heard the 19-year-old was drunk when he filmed his 16-year-old girlfriend performing a sex act on him and posted it on the social media app Snapchat. The girlfriend was unaware she had been filmed.

"Although he did not intend broader publication, the video became more widely available and was viewed by about 80 people," B.C. Provincial Court Judge Dennis Morgan said.

Some aspects of this story have been kept purposely vague to abide a court-ordered publication ban on any information that would identify the victim.

Soon after the video was posted, the 16-year-old complainant wrote on social media that she was "unaware but OK with it."

"She would have been put in a difficult situation and although she may have said she was OK with it, I think it can be reasonably inferred she certainly was not," Judge Morgan said.

The 19-year-old was ultimately charged with publishing child pornography, distributing child pornography, possession of child pornography and publishing an intimate image without consent. The 19-year-old was also ordered to have no contact with the complainant.

"(They) want to continue to have a relationship as boyfriend and girlfriend, (and) there is some suspicion that they continued to meet secretly," the judge said.

The court heard how the pair had been passengers in a car which was stopped for speeding. The 19-year-old gave a false name to police but was ultimately charged for breaching the court order and obstructing a police officer.

The court record shows the 19-year-old was charged three times for breaching the no-contact order, although her parents and his bail supervisor believe the couple met up on multiple occasions.

The Judge described the complainant as "vulnerable and susceptible to manipulation."

The complainant refused the offer of writing a victim impact statement, but instead, her parents, who were in the courtroom, wrote one.

"Prior to the offence she was a bright outgoing and friendly teenage girl and since the offence... (she's suffered) from anxiety, panic attacks, falling behind in school... and developed unhealthy eating habits and gained significant weight," read the statement.

"(Her) parents believe their daughter is torn between wanting to believe that (the 19-year-old) truly cares for her and the reality of what they believe to be an unhealthy relationship," the judge said.

Members of his family were also in the courtroom and the court heard how his family thought highly of the girl and had a very good relationship with her.

The judge said the young man's mother was perplexed when she learned of about the video and concerned her son would do such a thing.

"We love her," the judge said, quoting the 19-years-old's mother. "As a mother, I understand the anger her parents must have, for I do not want them or anyone to think we would ever discard or allow this," a statement from the 19-year-old's mother read.

The judge also continued to quote statements the 19-year-old had given to the court.

"What happened was terrible and I really don't blame anyone but myself... I care for her so much I would never intentionally hurt her and was horrified at the outcome and felt terrible," his statement read.

"However, he failed to recognize the opportunity to apologize to (her) parents who were present in court," the judge said.

Prior to the sentencing, the 19-year-old pleaded guilty to charges of breaching the court order and sharing an image of an intimate act without consent.

The Crown argued for a 12-month suspended sentence followed by two years' probation.

Defence lawyer David Ross argued the 19-year-old should be given a conditional discharge and not receive a criminal record.

"He was an adult, and in a position of trust and significantly breached that trust," the judge said. "The impact on (her) is significant, the negative impact on her self-esteem, confidence, and ability to trust could very likely be long term. He compacted the negative impact by continuing to have contact knowing this causes stress, and negatively affected (her) relationship with her parents."

Judge Morgan said there were no exceptional circumstances and the 19-year-old's acts warranted a criminal record.

"Other young people out there... don't know how serious and how harmful this conduct can be," he said.

He sentenced the 19-year-old to an eight-month conditional sentence order with a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. for the first four months. He was also ordered to have no contact with the complainant until she turned 18 years old.

Once the judge had read the full conditions of the sentence he spoke to the 19-year-old directly, reiterating that if he broke the no-contact order he may go to prison and his criminal record could spiral out of control.

"I know you've learnt your lesson... when you said... if you could go back in time you'd change things, I totally accept that," he said. "(But) you have to be a mature adult, you have to give her time so she can attend counselling to make sure there won't be any lasting harm to her. You want a relationship with a woman who will be confident and proud and allowing (her) some breathing room to grow increases the chance that she will become that person."

Judge Morgan told the 19-year-old he had to be a strong and mature person, before finally saying: "If you breach (the sentence), you'll be brought back before me, and I'll remember we had this discussion."

All the child pornography charges were stayed by the Crown.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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