Man charged with child pornography for ordering youth sex doll testifies at trial

Kenneth Harrisson is shown at provincial court in St. John's, N.L., on Tuesday, March 21, 2017.
Kenneth Harrisson is shown at provincial court in St. John's, N.L., on Tuesday, March 21, 2017. The Canadian Press/Sue Bailey

A man facing child pornography charges for ordering a child-sized sex doll repeatedly told a St. John’s courtroom Monday that his only motivation was to replace his infant son who died more than 20 years earlier.

Kenneth Harrisson ordered “Carol” from a Japanese website advertising childlike and adult sex dolls in 2013, and the doll was intercepted by the Canada Border Services Agency on its way to Canada.

The complicated case has been working its way through court for years, raising the issue of what constitutes child pornography if no real child was involved.

Harrisson, 54, faces charges of possessing child pornography, mailing obscene matter and two charges under the federal Customs Act of smuggling and possession of prohibited goods.

The case also deals with the limits of free expression.

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Harrisson testified Monday that he did not intend to have sex with the doll. He testified that he was lonely and that he ordered the doll for companionship to replace his son, who died at age six months.

Cross-examination picked up on Monday after the trial was interrupted Friday when Harrisson fainted and was taken away by an ambulance, according to local media reports.

Harrisson repeated his defence that he did a Google search of the term “sex doll” and said he chose the photo of Carol because it showed a “male-like” face that best resembled his son, who would have been around 25 years old in 2013.

He said the doll’s face was what appealed to him, and the fact that the doll was kneeling in a sexual position did not factor into his decision. Harrisson said the idea to search the term “male sex doll” did not cross his mind.

Crown attorney Bill Howse said Monday Harrisson’s explanation that he ordered a female sex doll as a male companion to replace his son “doesn’t make any sense” and asked him to explain his reasoning.

“I did not order a sex doll of a childlike nature,” Harrisson said. “The purpose I intended it for was to replace my deceased son, period.”

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He said he didn’t order an infant-sized doll because he wanted it to resemble how his son would have looked in 2013. He said he didn’t buy a mannequin because he was looking for something lifelike.

Harrisson briefly chuckled when Crown prosecutor Dana Sullivan asked why he didn’t buy a dog if he was lonely and seeking companionship. “A dog is not representative of a human,” he replied. “It’s not human in appearance.”

Forensic psychologist Peter Collins testified at an earlier trial date that “Carol” is the size of a prepubescent child without sexually mature characteristics. He said the doll meets the definition of child pornography.

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Canada’s Criminal Code defines child pornography as “a photographic, film, video or other visual representation, whether or not it was made by electronic or mechanical means” that shows a person who is, or depicted as being, under 18 years old engaged in explicit sexual activity.

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Collins had testified that he concluded the doll was prepubescent based on its height of about 120 centimetres – roughly four feet tall – and from information found on a related website advertising child sex dolls.

The psychologist said at the time that such items are meant to be fantasized about as prepubescent children and that they appeal to “pedophiliac subculture.”

Harrisson’s lawyer, Bob Buckingham, asked his client a few brief questions after cross-examination on Monday. Harrisson told Buckingham he was not aware of the company name before he ordered the doll and said he did no comparative searches about what was available in Canada.

The case will return to court for closing submissions on Tuesday.

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