Nfld. & Labrador

Sex doll is child porn, but judge finds Kenneth Harrisson not guilty

A St. John's man accused of possessing child pornography in an unusual case involving what has been described as a child sex doll has been found not guilty.

Warning: Story contains language that some may find offensive

Kenneth Harrisson, 54, outside court after receiving a not-guilty verdict on all the charges he faced. (Mark Quinn/ CBC)

A St. John's man accused of possessing child pornography in an unusual case involving what's been described as a child sex doll has been found not guilty.

The provincial court trial of Kenneth Harrisson, 54, is believed to have been the first in Canada dealing with child pornography charges involving a sex doll.

In his decision Thursday morning, Judge Mark Pike said he believed the doll linked to Harrisson is child pornography, but the Crown hadn't proven Harrisson's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Outside the courthouse after the judge's decision was given, Harrisson said he had no comment. Defence lawyer Bob Buckingham spoke on his behalf.

"Mr. Harrisson wishes to say that he is relieved that this matter is over with and his advice to people is to be careful as to what you order online from now on," he said.

Lawyer Bob Buckingham, right, represented Harrisson at the trial in St. John's. (Mark Quinn/ CBC)

Harrisson testified in court that he had ordered an adult doll, not the one that arrived in Canada from Japan in January 2013.

Buckingham also questioned the notion that the sex doll that was seized is child pornography.

"The piece of foam that is before the court, in my opinion and it's only my opinion, is not child pornography. The judge has made a decision otherwise and that stands," he said.

Buckingham also spoke about the impact the six years since his arrest have had on Harrisson.

"It has been draining. It has affected possibly job prospects. The strain was seen when he was giving evidence in his own defence."

Early this year, while Harrisson was testifying, he collapsed and was taken to hospital in an ambulance.

While speaking with reporters Buckingham was confronted by child protection advocate Linda Baudoin, who asked the lawyer if he was a "pedophile sympathizer."

"Are you an asshole?" Buckingham responded. "That's an insult to me as a member of the bar."

Baudoin, who came to St. John's from Ontario to hear the judge's decision, said she was disappointed.

"The priority should be protecting children. He ordered it [the doll] and the proof is all there recorded, but because of the reasonable doubt factor, he gets a not guilty verdict," she said.

Doll intercepted at border    

Harrisson ordered the doll from Japan in 2013 and it was intercepted at the border. 

He testified he did not intend to have sex with the doll and he had ordered it for companionship to replace his son, who died as an infant.  

Harrisson said he did a Google search of the term "sex doll" and he chose the photo that showed the most "male-like" face to resemble his son who died in 1986 but would have been around 25 in 2013.

Pike called Harrisson's explanation "incredible," but said the Crown hadn't proved Harrisson intended to buy a doll resembling a child. 

The judge also found Harrisson not guilty of additional charges, including mailing obscene matter, and two charges under the federal Customs Act of smuggling and possession of prohibited goods.    

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