November 13, 2014 5:15 pm
Updated: November 13, 2014 6:10 pm

Man given conditional discharge in prominent Halifax child porn case

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HALIFAX – A young man who pleaded guilty to making child pornography after he took a picture of an intoxicated teenager having sex at a party was given a conditional discharge and a sharp reprimand by the judge for destroying the girl’s life.

The 20-year-old stood stone-faced Thursday as the youth court judge spent 40 minutes reading the sentence in a case that captured national attention after the girl was taken off life-support following a suicide attempt last year. She was 17.

“He should never forget the promising, vibrant, young life that was eventually destroyed by his choice to record an act of sexual degradation,” Judge Gregory Lenehan told the packed courtroom in Halifax.

“There is no sentence that would be good enough or strong enough to reflect what this did to my daughter,” the victim’s father said after the sentencing. “There just won’t be.”

“You did in a few seconds set in motion a series of events that led to a great deal of shame, humiliation, anger, despair, anguish, loss, hurt and destruction.”

The young man, who cannot be identified under a statutory publication ban because he was 17 at the time of the offence, will also have to register with the national DNA database and meet with a youth worker periodically for 12 months. He was also ordered to issue a written apology to the girl’s family.

He pleaded guilty in September to one count of making child pornography while another charge of distributing child porn was dropped. Another young man is facing trial on Nov. 24 on that count.

The girl’s identity is also protected by a mandatory publication ban. Several protesters gathered outside the court to protest the ban, saying it silences the victim’s relatives from telling their story, and some people voiced their opposition by naming her on social media.

The girl’s father said he is satisfied with the sentence, despite having initially indicated he would like to see jail time for the young man who the judge said was unable to complete high school and suffered psychologically as a result of the incident.

“I agree with the judge – I think he had an awful lot of very strong words,” the father said outside court.

“In a way, I feel good about it today even though it’s been a hell of a journey.”

In an emotional address to the court, the girl’s mother said she witnessed the slow, eventual loss of her daughter after the incident and dissemination of the photo, which showed her vomiting out a window as someone had sex with her from behind.

“That photo ruined her life. She was never the same again,” she told the court in a victim impact statement.

“She started to crumble and it was like a wrecking ball hit her.”

Her father said in his victim impact statement that his once cheerful and chatty daughter sank into a depression.

“I had to watch my promising, intelligent, full-of-life child turn into an empty ghost, her dreams turn to ashes, her laughter turn to anger and cries,” he said through tears.

“This is not the way this had to end.”

At the September hearing, the Crown read into the court record an agreed statement of facts that said the male youth who was having sex with the girl in the fall of 2011, smiled for the camera and gave the thumbs up.

“The act depicted in the photo that you took is vile. It’s degrading. It’s dehumanizing,” Lenehan said. “It was not something to have been documented. It was a time for your intervention. … It was not a trophy moment.”

The Crown said the girl – who was 15 at the time – was unaware that the picture was being taken and did not give consent to it.

Lenehan said he was satisfied the young man felt remorse for his actions because he made “a full and frank admission of his involvement.”

Read the sentencing recap:

© 2014 The Canadian Press

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