Experts applaud ruling against man who posted ex's explicit video online

TORONTO -- Legal experts are celebrating a recent Ontario court decision that forces a man to compensate his ex-girlfriend after posting an explicit video of her online without her consent.

See Full Article

Both the presiding judge and legal observers say they believe the decision to be the first of its kind in Canada.

Ontario Superior Court Justice David Stinson said that the defendant, known only by his initials N.D., must pay his former girlfriend more than $140,000 in damages and interest.

Stinson's decision ruled the act of posting an intimate image online without permission can be compared to a sexual assault in terms of its impact and lasting harm.

Privacy law experts say the decision sets a precedent that will be felt throughout the country.

They say the ruling closes a gap in the legal system that left victims without the means of compensation if their privacy rights were violated in such a way.

While posting sexual images of another person without consent has been a criminal offence since 2014, both Stinson and privacy lawyers said they were not familiar with any comparable measures in civil law until now.

Donna Wilson, a Toronto-based lawyer who represented the victim, said the decision felt like a victory.

"(The client and her family) were so happy that there was finally some official recognition of the harm that she suffered, and a condemnation from the court that this is wrong and that she was the victim in this case," Wilson said in a telephone interview.

The court decision said Wilson's client and N.D. had dated for some time while attending high school in an unnamed Ontario city, but continued to stay in touch after the end of their relationship.

The decision said N.D. asked his former partner, who was then 18, to send him an explicit video that he promised he would keep completely private.

The ruling said the victim resisted for some time before complying in the fall of 2011. She later discovered that her ex had shared the video online the very day he received it and had also shown it to some of their mutual friends.

Wilson said her client was so traumatized by this development that she had to be taken to a crisis centre for help. She had trouble eating and sleeping for days on end and feared her reputation had been irreparably damaged, she added.

Wilson argued that uploading the video, which remained online for about three weeks, should be viewed as a sex crime with the same repercussions as a physical assault.

"The harm that results and the way the victims end up feeling is the same as someone in a sexual assault," she said. "They feel violated. Their bodies are being exposed in a sexual way that they haven't permitted, and the psychological harm that results is the same."

Stinson accepted Wilson's argument, saying the case could not be treated as a mere privacy breach.

"This case involves much more than an invasion of a right to informational privacy. As I have observed, in many ways it is analogous to a sexual assault," he wrote in the decision. "Given the circumstances of this case, and in particular the impact of the defendant's actions, a substantially higher award is warranted here.

David Fraser, an Internet privacy lawyer with McInnes Cooper in Halifax, said the ruling was a necessary development that may help to modernize Canada's justice system.

He said only Manitoba currently has a civil law in place to address such situations, adding recent high-profile cases such as the online bullying and subsequent suicide of Amanda Todd demonstrate the need for more comprehensive measures.

"While I don't think this is necessarily revolutionary, I think it is evolutionary," Fraser said of the Ontario ruling. "It expands the categories and also demonstrates the flexibility of our civil justice system to keep up with changing technologies and the changing environment in which we live, and to be able to fashion remedies for new or somewhat novel kinds of harm."

Stinson awarded the plaintiff $100,000 in total damages, plus an extra $41,000 in interest and legal costs.

The ruling said that N.D., who acted as his own lawyer, chose to neither defend his case nor settle out of court.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • A Big House for retirement: Ont. man to live in converted N.B. jail

    Canada News CTV News
    DORCHESTER, N.B. - An Ontario garbage worker has decided to retire to the Big House -- a defunct New Brunswick jail with a history of hangings. Bill Steele of Oshawa just bought the former jail in Dorchester -- listed for $159,900 -- which was decommissioned more than 20 years ago and features 15 original cells. Source
  • ACLU, Georgia battle over 'Allah' last name for toddler

    World News CTV News
    ATLANTA -- A civil rights group sued Georgia over the state's refusal to allow a couple to officially name its 22-month-old child "Allah." The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia filed the lawsuit recently in Fulton County Superior Court on behalf of the couple, Elizabeth Handy and Bilal Walk. Source
  • U.S. stocks lower as 'Trump trade' runs out of steam

    World News CBC News
    The three-month rally in stock markets ran out of a little steam on Monday on worries that the Trump White House may not be able to push through as many changes to business regulations as once thought. Source
  • Family pays tribute to American slain in London terror attack

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- The family of an American slain in last week's terror attack in London expressed gratitude for the kindness of strangers on Monday, offering hope and resolve that some good would result from the tragedy. Source
  • Kushner agrees to speak to Senate panel about Russia

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump's son-in-law has volunteered to answer questions before the Senate Intelligence Committee about arranging meetings with the Russian ambassador and other officials, the White House confirmed Monday. Jared Kushner has agreed to speak to the committee, which is conducting an investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election, including whether there are any ties between Trump associates and the Kremlin, the White House said. Source
  • 'No evidence' London attacker associated with ISIS: police

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- Police have found no evidence that the man who killed four people in London last week was associated with the Islamic State group or al Qaeda, a senior British counterterrorism officer said Monday. Source
  • London attacker wasn't linked to al-Qaeda or ISIS, police say

    World News CBC News
    A senior British counterterrorism officer says police have found "no evidence" Westminster attacker Khalid Masood was associated with ISIS or al-Qaeda. Deputy assistant commissioner Neil Basu said Masood clearly had "an interest in jihad," but police have no evidence he discussed his attack with others. Source
  • U.S. couple accused of trying to sell baby on Craigslist for $3,000

    World News CTV News
    ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. - Authorities say a Tennessee couple is accused of trying to sell a 5-month-old baby online for $3,000. Local news outlets report that the Greene County Sheriff's Office says 37-year-old Deanna Lynn Greer and 26-year-old John David Cain were arrested Friday on charges of aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect or endangerment. Source
  • 5 things we learned about the changing nature of news from The National in Conversation

    Canada News CBC News
    Some of CBC's top journalists and personalities from around the country gathered in Charlottetown on Friday for a panel discussion about the changing nature of news. Peter Mansbridge, CBC's chief correspondent, was the moderator. On the panel were senior correspondent Susan Ormiston, Power & Politics host Rosemary Barton, CBC News Now with Ian Hanomansing host Ian Hanomansing, CBC News: Nova Scotia and East Coast correspondent to The National Tom Murphy, columnist Rex Murphy and This Hour Has…
  • Massive $1M gold Canadian coin stolen in Berlin

    World News CBC News
    Berlin police say thieves broke into the German capital's Bode Museum and made off with a massive 100-kilogram gold coin issued by the Royal Canadian Mint that's worth millions. Dubbed the "Big Maple Leaf" and measuring three-centimetres thick with a diameter of 53 centimetres, the coin has a portrait of the Queen on one side and maple leaves on the other. Source