2017 ONCJ 317

In 2017 ONCJ 317, Mr. C, a 32-year-old man, uploaded five intimate videos and seventeen intimate images of his ex-girlfriend, Ms. S, onto pornography websites, including one dedicated to “revenge porn”. The couple had taken the images consensually during their relationship. Ms. S’s face was visible in several of the images, and Mr. C posted Ms. S’s name and information about her age, ethnicity, and place of birth as well as degrading comments alongside the images. One site limited the number of images Mr. C could post up and Mr. C commented on the site expressing his desire to post more images. When Ms. S became aware of the postings, she reported Mr. C to the police. The police contacted Mr. C who stated he would remove the con-tent that day. Later, Ms. S searched her name and found the video were still available. She took great efforts to contact websites to get the content removed, but was unable to remove all copies of them from the internet. The Court noted that after much effort, she realized that “everyday people were downloading and uploading my pictures and images.”[1] The Court acknowledged that each time the images are viewed Ms. S’s privacy and dignity is violated again, and may be violated in perpetuity. Strangers began to contact her and have continued to contact her because of the images

Ms. S had to take time off work, had a hard time paying her bills, and suffered academically due to her distress over the images. The Court noted that:

[Ms. S] said that she will never trust anyone again and knows that this will affect all her future relationships with her family and friends because she is afraid what people have seen of her. [Ms S]. continues to receive messages on social media from strangers who ask her to perform sex acts for them. She is concerned that future employers might come across these images should they decide to Google her name. [Ms. S] said that “[w]ith everything that I had experienced I didn’t feel like a person anymore.”[2]

When discussing the offence, the Court stated that the offence captures sending a single image of an unidentifiable person to another recipient, sharing images via social media, and post-ing images on websites, and that the core of the provision was to protect privacy and control over private images, stating: “[w]here someone shares an intimate image without consent, he violates the depicted person’s privacy because he has gone beyond that limited, consensual use. The more people to whom the image is exposed, the greater the invasion of privacy and the greater the harm caused to the victim.”[3]

Ms. S suffered significant and long-lasting harms. Her victim impact statement stated:

To this very day I’m afraid to Google my name, knowing that I will see the very things that I don’t want to see. Who I am, who I wanted to be, I don’t think I can be any of that anymore, if people Google my name they won’t see my achievements or strides I have made professionally, but instead videos and pictures that would make any potential employer disregard my application. I will never trust anyone again. I know this will affect any sort of relationship I will ever have with my family and friends, everyday will be a struggle because I’m afraid of what people have seen and what they think of me. I just want my freedom and life back. It did not deserve to be snatched away because I loved the wrong person. Maybe one day I’ll be okay, but not today.[4]

Mr. C pleaded guilty to non-consensual distribution of intimate images 18 months after being charged. He was sentenced to five-month imprisonment, 12 months of probation, 60 hours of community service, along with a no contact order with the victim and a prohibition from being within 50 metres of any place the victim frequents. The Court declined to order an internet prohibition, even though it said this type of offence normally would attract one.

[1] 2017 ONCJ 317 at para 14.
[2] 2017 ONCJ 317 at para 15.
[3] 2017 ONCJ 317 at para 20.
[4] 2017 ONCJ 317 at para 64.


Criminal Offence(s): Non-Consensual Sharing of Intimate Images