Bridgewater teens charged with child pornography appear in court

Teens charged with child pornography and sharing intimate images through a Dropbox account made their first appearance in youth court today.

The teens are accused of sharing intimate images of 20 underaged girls

Five of the six accused appeared in Bridgewater Provincial Court on Wednesday. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

A group of Bridgewater, N.S.-area teenagers facing child pornography charges made their first appearance in youth court on Wednesday.

Five of the six accused males stood before the judge as their lawyers asked for the case to be delayed. The sixth teen, who did not appear in court, had his lawyer appear two weeks ago to request an adjournment.

The teens, four 15 year olds and two 18 year olds, are jointly charged with possessing and distributing child pornography for sharing images of at least 20 underaged girls through the cloud-based file sharing program Dropbox.

The names of the accused and the girls who appear in the photos are protected by a court order, but police say all of the girls involved lived or have lived in the Bridgewater area.

Relatively new law

The investigation began in May 2015, after the principal of Bridgewater Junior Senior High School contacted police, who enlisted the help of both the RCMP and FBI.

Along with the child pornography charges, the teens have also been charged with distribution of intimate images without consent — a relatively new law designed to combat illegal sharing of images.

"It's challenging and interesting because there is not a lot of case law available on this new charge, where it has so recently been made part of our criminal code," said Crown attorney Leigh-Ann Bryson.

"It's important for these charges to be available because these are offences that have a huge impact on victims."

Responsibility to challenge law

Josh Nodelman, defence lawyer for one of the accused, says it's a case with larger implications because it's one of the first in Canada to be tested under the new legislation.

"We have a responsibility to see if indeed the law should be challenged," said Nodelman.

The case has been set for October 5, when all six teens will appear in court to be tried together. However, all lawyers involved are keen to push the case forward.

The court heard Wednesday more than 500 pages of evidence has been submitted for this case. Each lawyer wanted more time to review the evidence with their clients.

With files from Brett Ruskin