Man pleads guilty in high-profile child pornography case

Man had been charged in a case that is connected to the death of a 15-year-old girl

The girl's father speaks with media post-trial. Photo by: Jennifer Gosnell
The girl’s father speaks with media post-trial. Photo by: Jennifer Gosnell

A young man pleaded guilty today in the second trial of a well-known child pornography case in Halifax.

The 19-year-old man cannot be identified as he was a minor at the time of the crime.

The man looked on straight-faced with a slight red flush peeking out from the collar of his black shirt.

An agreed upon statement of facts states he sent a photo of a 15-year-old girl naked in a sexual act with him. In the photo, he was described as smiling and giving a thumbs up to the camera while the girl vomited out a window.

The judge agreed the photo met the definition of child pornography.

The girl was not aware of the photo being taken at the time and did not give her consent. The male who took the photo has been given a conditional discharge after he also pleaded guilty to creating child pornography earlier this month.

The man who pleaded today said he sent the photo to two people, both of whom were fellow classmates of the girl in the photo. From there, it was distributed school-wide.

The father of the girl believes the photo lives on.

“There are a lot of people out there right now who still have that photograph, I’m sure that they do. Nothing’s been done to hold anybody else accountable — just this one person,” said the father.

After the photo was sent around the girl’s school in the fall of 2012, the 15-year-old experienced harassment and bullying from her classmates and former friends. She ended her life in the spring of 2013. Her name cannot be published because of a publication ban protecting victims of sex crimes.

Her father said it was difficult to hear the court read the facts of the case and that he couldn’t help but be angry.

“It’s just a reminder, constantly, that (she)’s not in that courtroom. She’s not there to see this happening. She’s not there to see people held responsible for what they did to her,” he said.

#YouKnowHerName

The ban on the girl’s name has sparked the Twitter trend #YouKnowHerName. Her father supports the movement and sees it as a representation of public outrage to counter the publication ban on her name.

“I think it just kind of shows that in an age of social media when there’s an injustice committed people know it is an injustice and they go around it,” said the girl’s father.

The hashtag movement was started by Hilary Beaumont, a freelance reporter in Halifax, to fight the publication ban.

The girl’s father says he understands why minors need to be protected by such measures, but doesn’t feel it’s appropriate to this case specifically.

“I think if this was another case of sexual assault or child pornography, people have enough sense and enough decency to never name somebody in cases like that. But in this case, you know, this story is much bigger than that,” he said.

Her father has been outspoken against the publication ban and the police for, as he believes, failing his daughter.

“They don’t have a right to suddenly try to erase her and we have no intention of letting them,” he said.

During interactions with the media, the girl’s father used her full name often and wore a shirt that said her name followed with “is her name.”

Sentencing for the 19-year-old will take place on Jan. 15.

In April, this individual and the father of the girl will be back in court, as the young man is being accused of uttering death threats against the girl’s father.

In the upcoming case, the young man will be charged as an adult.

 

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2 thoughts on “Man pleads guilty in high-profile child pornography case

  1. Lovely story. One thought: while the photo of her father is timely and relevant, at first glance it looks like he was the one who pled guilty. Might want to reconsider.

  2. I saw this story promoted on Facebook. The headline and sub headline would lead people to believe, at first glance, that the man featured in the photograph is the guilty person, not the victims father.

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