Nfld. & Labrador

St. John's child sex doll case has American journalist watching closely

​A child sex doll case in St. John's has caught the attention of an American journalist from New York.

Case would not have gone to trial in the U.S.: Elizabeth Daley

American freelance journalist says Harrisson child sex doll case interesting from international perspective. (Glenn Payette/CBC)

​A child sex doll case in St. John's has caught the attention of an American journalist from New York.

Freelance writer Elizabeth Daley says she learned about the Kenneth Harrisson case after reading an article on the therapeutic uses of the dolls and then researching where child sex dolls might be illegal.

The Harrisson case turned up in a Google search.

"I'm interested because it brings up some issues on the limitation of freedom of expression — which is something we are very interested in — in the United States," said Daley.

Accused Kenneth Harrisson (left) in court Monday with his lawyer Bob Buckingham. (Glenn Payette/CBC)

"We have a first amendment right to free speech and that includes freedom of expression which could be limited to representations that could be considered art," she said.

"So, there's a lot of questions since Mr. Harrisson didn't spend any time with this doll that I think are interesting legal questions from an international perspective."

It's alleged that back in February 2013, the doll arrived at Canada Post's international mail processing centre in Toronto addressed to Harrisson, 51, in St. John's.

In St. John's Monday, Canadian Border Services officer Benedict Hall told the court he was contacted by the Toronto centre and was told what was in the package for Harrisson.

Hall said he asked the centre to send it to him, so he could take a look. He then contacted the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary to see if they wanted to do a "controlled delivery" of the doll to Harrisson.

The plan was put into operation and Harrisson was arrested on March 12, 2013.

He faces charges in relation to smuggling a child sex doll, using the mail system for an indecent purpose, and possession of child porn.

Box police say contains the child sex doll that was sent to Harrisson. (Glenn Payette/CBC)

Daley says she doesn't think the matter would even have gone to trial in the U.S.

"I'm not an expert, but based on our laws, it would not. There has to be a real child that was harmed in the making of child pornography," she said. "We have protections for things that are not actual children or based on actual children."

Daley says that not only was she interested in the story, but a U.S. publication was interested enough to send her to St. John's for the trial.

"It's especially interesting given that we all have access to the internet. We all have access to a global market place," said Daley. "Things that are illegal in one country can be easily procured, despite the fact that they are illegal in that country."

"We need to rethink the way we understand laws as an international community not just laws based on our particular country."

A mailing label shows the address of a Japanese company that allegedly sent the doll to Harrisson in St. John's. (Glenn Payette/CBC)

It's alleged that Harrisson ordered the doll from a company in Japan.

Daley says that is worth noting.

"The laws of Japan are very different from the laws of Canada and very different from the laws of the United States. As we all are shopping online, this is an issue." 

When the trial resumes on Tuesday, Daley will be in the court.

The first part of the morning will focus on a crown application to have the public — including media — banned from the court when the doll is removed from packaging and shown at trial.


Glenn Payette


A veteran journalist with more than 30 years' experience, Glenn Payette is a videojournalist with CBC News in St. John's.