Facebook revenge plot nets 6-month sentence
By James Turner, CBC News
Sunday, August 22, 2010

A young Winnipeg man's plot to seek revenge on his ex-girlfriend by posting explicit photos of the teen on Facebook has netted him a six-month jail term for distributing child pornography.

The 18-year-old was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty in July to the child-pornography charge and another allegation of criminal harassment.

A court-ordered ban prevents his name from being published because it could identify the 16-year-old victim.

The two teens had been in a romantic relationship for about two years but broke up in March, court heard.

The man was arrested in April after friends of the victim's new boyfriend were sent an online link taking them to a Facebook profile page in the girl's name. Explicit photos of her were posted there, Crown prosecutor Terry McComb said.

The 18-year-old spent four nights in jail but was released on bail conditions that included a ban against contacting the younger teen for any reason. However, a few days after his release, he created a new Hotmail email account and sent the victim a message, McComb said. "Please just read and don't tell the cops," the message said. "I'm sorry for showing you to his friends ? I got charged with child pornography and that's killer."

McComb told provincial court Judge Kelly Moar that the apology was not allowed under the bail terms.

After reading the email, the girl phoned police, who quickly rearrested the young man and charged him with harassment. He's been held at the Headingley Correctional Centre ever since.

Defence lawyer Michelle Bright said a need for revenge motivated the 18-year-old after his ex-girlfriend started a relationship, not long after the breakup, with someone he didn't like. The teen is remorseful for what he did and told a probation officer, "I don't like [jail], but I deserve it," Bright said.

Moar called the man's actions "totally reprehensible" and said it's possible he made the girl a lifelong victim of sexual exploitation because of the permanence of online content. "What you chose to do ? is unfortunately something that cannot be undone," Moar said. "There's no delete button on the internet. Those things float forever on the internet."

Moar sentenced the man to three and a half more months in jail after crediting him for the more than two months he's already spent locked up. Moar also ordered him to two years on supervised probation, which forbids him from having any access to the internet or using a computer unless it's at work or school.

A court-ordered pre-sentencing report recommended the teen be released immediately into a community-based domestic-violence treatment program. McComb and the man's lawyer, Michelle Bright, told Moar the case was more akin to one involving domestic violence and not sexual deviance.

At the request of the lawyers, Moar declined to have the man's name placed on a federal database of sex-offenders, calling such a move "grossly disproportionate" given the circumstances of the case.