Sharing nude photos of fellow student gets N.L. teen 18 months' probation
Grade 12 student sentenced for possession of child pornography, victim says she cries herself to sleep
A Newfoundland teenager who circulated nude pictures of his high school classmate has been sentenced to 18 months' probation for possession of child pornography.
In a Corner Brook provincial court decision released Friday, the 16-year-old was also ordered to perform 25 hours of community service work. The sentence was a joint submission from the Crown and defence counsel, accepted by Judge Wayne Gorman.
I feel like I am never going to get my old life back again, for people have been treating me differently ever since the incident.- Victim impact statment
Gorman noted the teenager (referred to as "X" in his decision) asked for nude pictures of a 15-year-old female friend (referred to as "Y") who attends the same high school.
He showed the pictures she sent to a couple of other students and sent them electronically to others. The identities of the people involved are protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
"As might be expected, the pictures were circulated at the school and this has made school life for Y very difficult," wrote Gorman in his decision.
"I feel like I am never going to get my old life back again, for people have been treating me differently ever since the incident," she wrote in her victim impact statement.
"I feel ashamed of my body and I try to hide it in the best way possible. Before, I did not think negatively of my physical appearance, now I feel very self-conscious. I feel like I am not as close as I was before with my friends or family especially my mom and dad."
The judge has rejected joint submissions in the past and has handed down harsher sentences than generally recommended — and has also seen those sentences overturned on appeal.
Nova Scotia case considered, says judge
In this case, Gorman suggested he had no leeway, and referred to a similar case in Nova Scotia in which a judge rejected a joint submission and concluded the circumstances constituted a violent offence — which would allow for jail time for a youth under the Youth Criminal Justice Act — but the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal overturned that decision and imposed the same 18-month probation handed down in Corner Brook.
"In the circumstances of this case, the evidence presented is insufficient to establish that a 'violent offence' as defined in the Youth Criminal Justice Act was committed," he wrote. "Thus, I do not have the authority to impose a custodial sentence."
Even if he did, the judge continued, he had no basis for rejecting counsel's joint sentencing submission.
Gorman's decision notes the teenage boy, who pleaded guilty to the offence and has no prior convictions, would have known his actions would have a "significant impact" on the girl, including on her school life.
The judge said there was little background information about them, apart from that the boy is in Grade 12 and at the same school as the girl. Gorman's decision empathized with the girl, noting her statement "elegantly described the impact" of the crime.
"I cry myself to sleep every night thinking about what the next day would be like and thinking about what more could have happened," she wrote. "People think I am ok but I am not, it is very hard, upsetting and hurtful. The incident and hurt will always be with and a part of me."