SELECTED CASE LAW
In 2013 ABPC 116, Mr. M pled guilty to 39 criminal charges against 21 victims. Charges included multiple counts of internet luring, extortion, child pornography offences, fraud and unauthorized use of computer with intent to commit mischief in relation to data. While committing his offences over roughly five years, M worked as a security guard.
M used Facebook and Nexopia to contact children and request nude photographs and sexual performances on webcam. He also communicated with children—the majority of whom were boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 16—using MSN Messenger and through text messages. If his victims refused to send him nude photographs, M would use information he had learned about the children in past conversations to hack into their email and social media accounts (for example, by asking questions related to common password reset security questions such as pet names and birthdays). On more than one occasion, M impersonated his child victims in order to solicit nude photographs from their friends. In other instances, after hijacking his victims’ online accounts, he told children they could only regain access to their accounts if they sent him nude photographs. When one child sent M photos of her in her underwear, he threatened to distribute the photos unless she sent him a fully nude photograph. M also distributed photos of a naked boy on Tinypic.com.
At sentencing, the Court noted that M’s actions were deliberate, persistent, and aggressive. The offences were also sexually motivated, and the Court found that they were “calculated to intimidate, manipulate and psychologically and socially harm the vulnerable child and youthful victims.” The only mitigating factors on sentencing were the facts that M pled guilty to all charges and had cooperated with police.
The Court considered some of M’s conduct “cyberbullying,” and cited AB v Bragg Communications 2012 SCC 46 to describe the harm that cyberbullying can do to children. The Court noted that “[M’s] use of the internet, to commit his numerous sexually based criminal offences involving children and young adults, have elements of disturbing online sexual harassment – an adult criminally cyberbullying and cyberstalking, calculated to randomly choose youthful victims to emotionally harass, threaten, intimidate and manipulate in furtherance of his criminal objectives.” M was sentenced to 11-years imprisonment, along with several ancillary orders including prohibitions on possession of firearms and attending places where persons under 16 are present, an order to provide a DNA sample, and an order to comply with the Sexual Offender Information Registry Act.