PENTICTON - A Penticton man is going to jail for three months for emailing a sexually explicit photo of himself to an underage girl.
In a decision handed down in Penticton court today, Nov. 22, Shaun D. Russell was given a three month jail term and two years probation by Judge Gale Sinclair for making sexually explicit material available to a child under 16.
Crown prosecutor Andrew Vandersluys told court Russell began online communications with a 13-year-old girl, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, between Oct. 23 and 27, 2014 when Russell was 29-years-old.
He met the girl while she was participating in a weekend sleepover at a friend’s house.
Russell initially agreed to purchase e-cigarettes for her on two occasions, then began online conversations with the victim, inluding an exchange of photos of the girl’s breasts and buttocks, and from Russell, a photo of his penis. Russell also indicated a desire to get together with the girl for sex. A meeting did take place between the two, but it was while in the presence of the victim’s girlfriend and sexual relations did not take place.
The victim, who suffered from an anxiety and mood disorder, became even more distraught as a result of the exchanges, which were discovered by the victim’s mother. She collected screen shots of the messages and contacted police.
In a statement to police, Russell admitted contacting the girl and sending the photo. Although he had no prior criminal record, a pre-sentence report revealed he had limited insight into his actions, and actually tried to blame the victim for what took place.
Termed “psychologically naive,” and found “unwilling to follow steps to improve his own lot” he was rated at a low to moderate risk to reoffend, the report noting his to be a “crime of opportunity.”
A victim impact statement read by the victim’s mother in court noted the additional trauma the girl had suffered as a result of the exchange. She said her daughter had lost all her friends but one, had dropped out of school and was filled with fear all the time.
Vandersluys asked Judge Sinclair to consider a sentence of four months’ jail time and two years probation, noting the crime had a minimum and maximum term of 30 days and six months, respectively.
Defence lawyer Norm Yates emphasized the fact that this was his client’s singular instance of misbehaviour, with no evidence he had ever done anything like it, or would do anything like it again.
He said his client felt tremendous remorse to have caused such hurt to the girl and her family.
Yates said Russell had been “blind to his behaviour” but had “grown up a lot” since this happened. He asked the judge to consider a 30 day minimum sentence and “whatever period of probation you feel necessary.”
Calling the incident “tragic all around,” Judge Sinclair noted the responsibility for the incident fell on the accused who was the adult.
“Young people, indeed, people of all ages can get into so much trouble and so much grief by clicking a mouse, and that’s what happened here,” he said, noting the victim, already in an emotionally fragile state, had her condition exacerbated by the experience.
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