Victoria teen who texted nude photos of rival convicted of distributing child porn

Steve Mertl
National Affairs Contributor
Daily Brew
A new generation of sites for cyberbullying are cropping up and worrying police.

A suburban Victoria teenage girl who texted naked photos of her boyfriend's former girlfriend has been found guilty of distributing child pornography, as well as uttering threats.

But the conviction, which may be the first of its kind involving a teen offender, is by no means the end of the case. Defence lawyer Christopher Mackie says he'll be back in court later this month to set a date to argue the verdict is unconstitutional, The Canadian Press reports.

Mackie contends the case is unconstitutional because his client, who was 16 at the time of the offences and can't be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was about the same age as the person in the photos. That, he contends, means she could not be engaging in pedophile behaviour, Global News said.

The teen, who lives in suburban Saanich, was tried in B.C. provincial court last September. The Crown alleged she send nude photos of her rival and thousands of other texts prosecutors deemed threatening, the Victoria Times Colonist reported.

Mackie argued the purported threats amounted to little more than "trash talking."

[ Related: B.C. teen accused of sexting photos of rival faces child porn charges ]

Mackie said from the outset Canadian child-pornography laws were aimed at adults who exploit children and not meant to apply to people prosecuted as young offenders.

"Originally, those provisions were created in order to protect children, so is it appropriate to use those provisions now to prosecute children?" Mackie told CBC News.

Mackie tried to broach the constitutional challenge before the trial began but Judge Sue Wishart ruled the case could proceed first.

The charges were laid last year before Ottawa introduced legislation in November making it illegal to distribute "intimite images" of someone on the Internet without the subject's consent.

But the case proceeded in the climate of outrage surrounding the suicide last spring of Rehtaeh Parsons, the Nova Scotia teen who killed herself after digital images were circulated of her allegedly being sexually assaulted at a drinking party.

Parsons, 15 at the time, was humiliated and ostracized and despite changing schools and receiving counselling, died after hanging herself in a closet.

Two teens have since been charged with distributing child pornography and CP said the case is expected to proceed at the end of March.

[ Related: Who failed Rehtaeh Parsons? Almost everyone ]

It also recalled the cyberbullying that drove B.C. teen Amanda Todd to suicide after an Internet stalker tricked her into flashing her breasts online, then circulated the image.

But the B.C. Civil Liberties Association said charging the Saanich teen with distribution child porn was overkill.

"It's obviously absurd ... The unbelievably heavy hand of criminal law cannot be used as an educational tool and a deterrent in this fashion," association director Michael Vonn told CBC News last September.

The teen's mother said the charge does not fit the crime and the incident would have been better dealt with through counselling and education.

However, Saanich police saw the young woman's actions as bullying and the prosecution said sending the photos, which were taken from the boyfriends mobile phone, was intended to mock and ridicule the target.