2008 ABCA 129

In 2008 ABCA 129, 24-year-old Mr. I had pleaded guilty to two counts of luring a child, one count of counselling making child pornography, and two counts of extortion.

Mr. I had solicited sexually explicit images and videos from 12 and 13-year-old girls he met on Nexopia, including recording live sexual video chats without the girls’ consent or awareness. He was persistent, threatening, and in some cases had established long-term friendships with his victims to gain their trust by making up fake accounts and striking up a friendship. He some-times played his fake accounts off of each other to try and solicit more photos and manipulate the girl. In one case, he threatened to share the images he obtained with the victim’s friend list. The court noted the internet is being used as a tool to exploit children:

As recognized by the courts, the internet has provided a means by which individuals like [Mr. I] may now easily solicit children to engage in online conversations. The Crown makes the point that years ago, someone like [Mr. I] would have had to approach a child, say, on a playground, face-to-face, in order to engage that child in conversation. Being propositioned by [Mr. I] in such circumstances might result in extreme alarm, as in a face-to-face context a number of factors, particularly age, would be readily apparent to the child. The internet, however, deprives these children of the protection that their senses would ordinarily provide to them. This makes them particularly vulnerable to internet predators.[1]

It further noted that girls are not to blame for their victimization and that “Teen girls, who are subjected to peer pressure, and exposed regularly to media images glorifying a specific body image, and sexuality, are entitled to use the technology that is presented to them, the same way that they are entitled to attend school grounds and shopping malls.”[2]

The judge stated that, “the circumstances of the present case are characterized by such aggravating factors that the level of abuse invokes a sentence approaching that imposed for a major sexual assault.”[3]

Mr. I was sentenced to seven years imprisonment. Additional orders included prohibitions on possession of firearms and attending places where persons under 16 are present, an order to provide a DNA sample, registration as a sex offender, and an order to forfeit any computer equipment used in committing the offences for which he was convicted

Mr. I’s appeal of his sentence was dismissed and his sentence was confirmed. In his appeal the court noted:

Each victim was told that the accused had a very compromising recorded video of her which he threatened to publish more or less to the world. (In one case, he said that it was going to be displayed all over the victim’s school.) Publication does not seem to have happened in either case, and in one case probably it was technically impossible. In the other case, the offender did have such a recording and it is likely impossible to be certain that it will never happen. In both cases, this fear must have consumed the victims for some time. Even public defamation stings in a way that those who have not experienced it cannot understand; what this sort of public degradation and exposure would have done to a young teenage girl we can scarcely imagine. The mere threat of it would be almost as bad, especially when the offender was pretending to be two people while working his sinister game. This was premeditated torture, and no less so for being mental. [4]

[1] 2007 ABPC 237 at para 64.
[2] 2007 ABPC 237 at para 80.
[3] 2007 ABPC 237 at para 60.
[4] 2008 ABCA 129 at para 7.

Criminal Offence(s): Child Pornography Offences, Extortion , Luring a Child