SELECTED CASE LAW
In 2016 ONCJ 547, a young musician, Mr. Z, pleaded guilty to criminal harassment after putting his 17-year-old girlfriend’s nude photos up on a pornography site with the caption “rate and what you do to her. Cum on her pics.” Z left the photos up for two years and they were viewed 1,333 times. The victim had not consented to this and was devastated when she dis-covered they were on the pornography website. Her face was visible in the images. As she wrote in her victim impact statement:
There was no way I could make the 1,300 people who viewed the thread “unsee” my naked underage body. There was no way I could erase the images off of the computers of the people, who downloaded them. There was no way I could prevent these images from surfacing in the future and destroying my career and life that I have worked so hard to build. I have never felt more violated, belittled, and vulnerable.
[Z] was young when he did this to me but I was younger… he took advantage of me as a child and destroyed my life…He had two and a half years to remove the images but instead left them up for the world to view. [Z] is set to start his career and graduate in four years. Because of his actions he took that opportunity away from me.
The young woman stopped attending school, fell into a downward spiral, and experienced depression and anxiety.
The Court discusses “sexting” and refers to this as a case of “non-consensual sexting.” The Court also refers to the new Criminal Code provision criminalizing non-consensual distribution of intimate images, and writes:
Incidents of non-consensual distribution of intimate images and non-consensual sexting dove tail the increased use of technology for communication purposes in our society, and the escalating risk-taking behaviour that sexting leads to, which has in turn created a new class of vulnerable persons requiring the Court’s protection, and a crime that is more prevalent in our community than was previously the case.
The Court notes that Mr. Z was originally charged with possessing, accessing, and distributing child pornography, and he was severely stigmatized when his school community learned of the charges. Because he had already served four days in pre-sentence custody, and because a criminal conviction for harassment would impact his promising music career, the Court ultimately suspends Mr. Z’s sentence and places him on a non-reporting probation period for twelve months.
Emails between Mr. Z and the victim are included in an Appendix to the decision. In one email, Mr. Z wrote:
Yes 1000+ saw it but that is 1000 in the world out of the billions of people. […] These thoughts might not be the most comforting thoughts right now hut it is the truth. I’m not here to justify my actions, I’m just trying to take responsibility and make things better for you and make you view it in different angle. Nudes of celebrities and important figures get leaked all the time but they keep their head strong and are able to get over it, if those high profile figures can, you can too.
When he suggests that they may be able to get together again someday, the young woman replies, “for your own safety and for my sanity, stay the hell away from me. Forever.”
Mr. Z was given a suspended sentence, 12 months’ probation, and additional orders including no contact with the victim, and a prohibition on possessing any intimate images of the victim.
 2016 ONCJ 547 at 2.
 2016 ONCJ 547 at s 3-4.
 2016 ONCJ 547 at 22.
 2016 ONCJ 547 at 21.
 2016 ONCJ 547 at 6.
 2016 ONCJ 547, Appendix.
Criminal Offence(s): Criminal Harassment