Nfld. & Labrador

Newfoundland man facing child porn charges after allegedly ordering sex doll

Two years after a sex doll trial made headlines around the world, a Corner Brook man has been arrested for allegedly possessing at least two child sex dolls, police say.

RCMP say they seized 2 dolls at man's Corner Brook home last year

A Corner Brook man has been arrested and charged with two counts of possessing child pornography after police allegedly seized 'child sex dolls' at his home, the RCMP said Tuesday. (Shutterstock)

A Corner Brook man is facing child pornography charges after police say they intercepted a "child sex doll" destined for the man's home.

The RCMP said in a media release that officers searched the man's home in September 2020, allegedly turning up evidence to support two charges against the man for possession of child pornography.

A spokesperson for the force said police intercepted one sex doll sent by mail and seized "at least one more" at his home.

The release said child porn "can take on several forms, most commonly known and understood as sexual images and/or videos of children."

"However, child pornography can also be in written or audio forms, or as in this case, a 'visual representation' such as a child sex doll," police said.

The circumstances of the 32-year-old's arrest mirror the 2019 case of Kenneth Harrisson, a St. John's man who is believed to be the first person in Canada to be prosecuted for ordering a child sex doll online.

Harrisson was acquitted in provincial court, but Judge Mark Pike said at the time that he supported the argument that a sex doll constituted child pornography.

The Criminal Code does not explicitly reference sex dolls, leaving the courts to interpret what constitutes the visual representation of a child. The 2019 case made world headlines as the Newfoundland and Labrador provincial court decided whether the doll, in Harrisson's case, was in fact child pornography.

No legal precedent: professor

Harrisson ordered the doll from Japan in 2013. 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 in 1986.

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.

That case, despite its prominence in news media and apparent similarity to the circumstances of the Corner Brook man's arrest, has little to no legal value for subsequent child pornography cases, according to one expert.

"Novelty is one thing, precedent value is another," said Mariana Valverde, a professor emeritus of law at the University of Toronto.

Because the 2019 case occurred in a lower court and was not appealed, the judge's interpretation of the doll as child pornography won't have any bearing on the current case if it goes to trial, she said.

Valverde also questioned the validity of the judge's interpretation.

"The purpose of the child pornography law is to prevent the kiddie porn industry, as in, pictures of actual children," she said.

"It's being really seriously misused … if people are going after plastic dolls."

A joint agency between the RCMP and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, called the integrated internet child exploitation team, laid charges against the 32-year-old. The team investigated in August 2020 after receiving a tip from Canada Border Services Agency, the RCMP said.

The man charged will appear in Corner Brook provincial court on Jan. 11.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador