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

  • Celebrity mogul Kevin O'Leary set to run for Conservative leadership

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    By Jenny Yuen, Toronto Sun First posted: Tuesday, January 17, 2017 05:11 PM EST | Updated: Tuesday, January 17, 2017 05:20 PM EST Source
  • Canadian man killed in Mexico shooting 'loved dancing,' sister says

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- The family of a Canadian man killed in a nightclub shooting in Mexico is planning a "big celebration" for the popular security guard when they bring his body home. Kirk Wilson's sister says she hopes there will be some dancing when they say goodbye. Source
  • Search of Lake Erie for human remains from plane crash ends

    World News CTV News
    CLEVELAND -- Officials say DNA profiles have been developed for three of the six people aboard a plane that crashed into Lake Erie off Cleveland and the search for human remains and plane debris has ended. Source
  • RCMP 'adapted' to unusual situation with arrival of Tamil migrant ship: Crown

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER -- A Crown attorney says the RCMP adapted to a "rather unusual situation" when they investigated the arrival of a dilapidated vessel carrying 492 Tamil migrants off British Columbia's coast in 2010. Charles Hough said in closing arguments at the human-smuggling trial of two Canadians and two Sri Lankans that police had to diverge from usual procedure when interviewing hundreds of migrants who had been aboard the MV Sun Sea. Source
  • Obama cuts short Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is commuting the prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who leaked classified documents. The White House says Manning is one of 209 inmates whose sentences Obama is shortening. Source
  • ’Everything was ablaze’: Man charged after school, hall, RCMP office burn

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    MILLTOWN, N.L. — A small-town Newfoundland deputy mayor surveyed the smouldering remnants of his childhood school Tuesday, dismayed at having to rebuild his community after a series of alleged arsons that also damaged the town hall and police station. Source
  • 2 Calgary Police Service officers charged with serious crimes

    Canada News CTV News
    CALGARY - Alberta's police watchdog says two officers from the Calgary Police Service have been charged with serious crimes. Susan Hughson, executive director of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, says Sgt. Les Kaminski has been charged with perjury and assault with a weapon. Source
  • Iran's Rouhani says talk of renegotiating nuclear deal 'meaningless'

    World News CBC News
    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday U.S. president-elect Trump could not unilaterally cancel the nuclear deal Tehran signed with world powers including Washington and that talk of renegotiating it was "meaningless". Trump, who will take office on Friday, has called the July 2015 agreement "the worst deal ever negotiated". Source
  • Human Ken Doll gets his bum done

    World News Toronto Sun
    Human Ken Doll Rodrigo Alves has had scores of cosmetic procedures and spent a staggering $600,000 on being just perfect. But he’s not done yet. Inspired by Barbie’s boyfriend, Alves admits that he’s had so much cosmetic surgery that once his nose nearly fell off. Source
  • Quebec's Anticosti Island wants to be recognized as UNESCO heritage site

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- The picturesque Quebec municipality of Anticosti Island is trying to become a UNESCO world heritage site. It made the pitch at a news conference in Montreal today. Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna called last August for suggestions for Canadian sites that could be recognized by UNESCO. Source