Canada's First Revenge Porn Convict Gets 90 Days in Jail

The 29-year-old man, whose name hasn't been published in order to protect the identity of the victim, admitted to posting three nude photos of her on Facebook after their year-long relationship came to a bitter end.
March 24, 2016, 5:45pm
Photo via Flickr

The first test of Canada's revenge porn law has sent a Winnipeg man, who posted naked photos of his ex online after she confessed to cheating on him, to prison for 90 days.

The 29-year-old man, whose name hasn't been published in order to protect the identity of the victim, admitted to posting three nude photos of her on Facebook after their year-long relationship came to a bitter end.

Judge Carena Roller said while she believed he was remorseful and wouldn't do it again, the sentence "must have a chilling effect" on others who might consider "revenge porn" in the future, the Winnipeg Sun reported.

Roller also banned the man from using the internet for three years except for work purposes as part of his supervised probation.

"It's trite to say (the accused) won't be the last person to be upset by the breakup of a relationship of infidelity and many will have access to the internet and applications such as Facebook," she said.

The man's lawyer said his client was devastated after he caught his ex-girlfriend cheating on him with a co-worker, posted the photos after getting drunk and high on cocaine, and deleted them 30 minutes later, according to the Sun.

He pleaded guilty to publishing and distributing intimate images of his ex without her consent last March, just weeks after the act was made a criminal offence by the formerly governing Conservatives' anti-cyberbullying law, Bill C-13 — a move privacy lawyer David Fraser calls a "progressive move by a not-so-progressive government."

Roller rejected his request for a conditional penalty that would've kept him out of jail, but has allowed his sentence to be served on weekends, which lets him continue to work full time during the week.

While it's unknown how many people saw the photos or if anyone made copies, Crown attorney Nadine Vasas pointed out to the court that "there was an understanding that these (images) were to remain within the relationship."

Related: Canadian Revenge Porn Victims Can Now Sue — But Only in One Province

The woman said previously in a victim impact statement that she never imagined ending up in a situation similar to relationship "horror stories" she'd read on social media, the Winnipeg Free Press reported.

"I never thought someone who once loved me could do something so degrading," she said. "My life has been turned upside down. I've lost all self-respect."

The man had no prior criminal record and received many letters of support in court from family and members of the community. Posting the photos was "an extremely uncharacteristic act that he will regret for the rest of his life," his lawyer Karl Gowenlock told the court.

"The impact I created will go on forever. I'm truly sorry for this. What I did was beyond terrible," the man said in court Monday, according to the Sun. "I became somebody that night I promise you will never see again."

In January, Manitoba became the first province to allow victims of revenge porn to avoid criminal proceedings and instead sue perpetrators under the Intimate Image Protection Act.

Fraser said he's not surprised by the sentence, given that it's for a "relatively new offense."

"I think a significant component of sentencing for judges has to do with the deterrent effect and has to do with a recognition of the harm that the offense has caused."

It sends a signal that the courts will take the crime seriously, he said.

Fraser, who launched a charter challenge against the Cyber-Safety Act in Nova Scotia that was ultimately deemed unconstitutional, said Bill C-13 has filled a major void in the law. Prior to it coming into effect, there was "no criminal law that could be invoked for this sort of activity," he said.

"There was nothing to represent the societal condemnation of this sort of violation of trust."

Follow Tamara Khandaker on Twitter: @anima_tk

Photo via Flickr