2018 ONSC 2422

In 2018 ONSC 2422, Mr. B pleaded guilty to the non-consensual distribution of an intimate image, assault, sexual assault, and obstruction of justice.

Mr. B and Ms. B had a difficult relationship, during which he had taken consensual naked photographs of Ms. B. Mr. B later published some of those images on the internet without her consent. When she confronted him, he assaulted her. He was found guilty of assault and promised to delete any other intimate images he had of Ms. B.

At a later date, Mr. B, who had not deleted the images, then planned to orchestrate a violent sexual attack on Ms. B by strangers, in which Mr. B would intervene in as her rescuer, hoping to renew the relationship. He created several fake social media profiles pretending to be Ms. B. The fake profiles claimed she was looking for sexual relationships and included six nude images of her. The phone number linked to the accounts was in fact Mr. B’s and he received the texts from the account and pretended to be Ms. B.

Mr. Y saw the ad and began texting with who he thought was Ms. B, who told him that she wanted Mr. Y and others to pretend to violently sexually assault her, fulfilling a “rape fantasy”. The texts allegedly sent by Ms. B described violent and graphic requests, including gagging her so she could not scream and taking photos of her to send to a specific email address, claiming she would pretend to fight to get away and resist, but she really would be consenting. Mr. B provided Mr. Y with detailed descriptions of how to get into Ms. B’s home and the layout of her home, sent many images of Ms. B clothed and nude to reinforce the illusion Mr. Y was actually speaking with Ms. B. Mr. Y repeatedly asked for more information and proof that she would be consenting before agreeing to “attack” Ms. B and wanted to meet beforehand to go over the plan to ensure she would not experience anything she did not want to. Mr. B would engage in text messages with Ms. B to get photos of her in the moment to then send to Mr. Y to “prove” he was talking to Ms. B in real time, including taking photos of her driver’s license.

After much conversation, Mr. Y went to Ms. B’s house and attacked her, Ms. B’s screams attracted the neighbours and Mr. B, who was parked nearby and had orchestrated the visit, came and pushed Mr. Y off of her. Mr. Y tried to show his cellphone and the texts to the neighbours as proof he had been invited to attack Ms. B but Mr. B grabbed the phone, broke it, and ran to his car where he left the broken phone, then returned to Ms. B’s home. When the police arrived, Mr. Y told them Mr. B had taken the phone, which he denied. Mr. B comforted Ms. B as she spoke with the police.

Both Mr. B and Mr. Y were arrested. The police seized Mr. B’s cellphone. Mr. Y was able to retrieve the texts from the “Text Now” app he had been using to communicate with who he thought was Ms. B. The police also located Mr. Y’s cellphone in Mr. B’s car.

Upon searching the internet, Ms. B was able to locate at least 11 fake profiles of her where her intimate images were posted. Some included her name, identification, information about where she worked, and degrading hashtags. Members of the public had rated her photos and made cruel comments about her body. She was not able to close all of the accounts and a “reverse image” search of the images showed they had been spread further online. The court noted that some of the images seem “destined to remain on the internet indefinitely.” Strangers who came across the images have sought to locate or contact Ms. B.

The impact on Ms. B has been severe, she experienced terror and ongoing trauma that has transformed her in negative ways. The court noted that the:

Discovery of her ongoing and seemingly intractable “online presence”, created by Mr B., has been especially devastating to Ms B.’s sense of personal dignity and self-esteem. The realization that complete strangers continue to view and rate her naked images, while posting hideous comments about her, has made her hate herself and her own body. She feels extremely exposed and violated. She wants to “disappear” and “become invisible”. She cannot see anyone without wondering if they too have viewed the images.[1]

Mr. B was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment, additional orders included a weapons ban for life, a DNA order, a 20 year registration as a sex offender, a 20 year internet limitations (including a requirement he use his full name for all online communications, a prohibition from using photos of Ms. B online, a prohibition from communicating about Ms. B online), an $800 victim surcharge fee, no contact order with Ms. B and some others, and a forfeiture of the cellphone used in the offence.

[1] 2018 ONSC 2422 at para 97.

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