Toronto Star's View: Sex video posting carried a...
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Jan 28, 2016  |  Vote 0    0

Toronto Star's View: Sex video posting carried a high cost

Ontario Superior Court has just sent a powerful message that abusing a partner’s trust by posting explicit videos to the Internet can carry a heavy cost

OurWindsor.Ca

Cyber bullies, beware. Canada’s courts are prepared to come down hard on people who publish intimate videos or pictures on the Internet without consent. And a good thing it is, in an era of “sexting” and “revenge porn.”

In the first case of its kind in Canada, Ontario Superior Court Justice David Stinson has just ordered a man to pay $100,000 in damages, plus $41,708 in legal costs and interest, to a former girlfriend for posting a sexually explicit video of her after promising he wouldn’t show it to anyone. This sends a forceful and welcome message that abusing a partner’s trust can carry a heavy cost.

While “publication of an intimate image without consent” has been a crime in Canada since 2014 subject to up to five years in prison, this latest ruling fills a gap by setting a precedent in civil law as well. It establishes the right to sue for breach of confidence “if the matter publicized or the act of publication … would be highly offensive to a reasonable person and … is not of legitimate concern to the public.” And rightly so, given the damage that can result.

In the case at hand, the young university student known as Jane Doe 464533 agreed under pressure from her former boyfriend back in 2011 to send him a sexually explicit video, after he assured her he would not show it to anyone. The very day he got it he posted it to an Internet pornography site. He also showed it to mutual acquaintances. It was online for three weeks before being removed.

The woman was “devastated, humiliated and distraught,” the judge found, saying her injuries “bear striking similarities” to those caused by sexual battery. She struggled with depression, couldn’t focus on studies, couldn’t eat, had panic attacks and “had no emotion or life.” To this day she struggles, worrying about the possible impact on her career or future relationships. The breach of trust was “flagrant and outrageous,” and the man showed no remorse and made no defence.

In Justice Stinson’s mind, “the courts can and should provide civil recourse for individuals who suffer harm arising from this misconduct and should intervene to prevent its repetition.” Thanks to the courage and resolve of one young women a line has been drawn against abuse of trust.

Toronto Star

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