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.


Latest Canada & World News

  • Accused Austin bomber called himself a 'psychopath': congressman

    World News CTV News
    AUSTIN, Texas - A congressman says the suspected Austin bomber left a confession calling himself a "psychopath" and saying he felt no remorse for his actions. Rep. Michael McCaul made the comments at a news conference Saturday, where he thanked law enforcement officials for stopping the deadly three-week bombing spree that terrorized the capital of Texas. Source
  • The road map and road blocks of Trump's transgender troops ban explained

    World News CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump has issued an order supporting his push to ban most transgender troops from serving in the U.S. military except under "limited circumstances." But the decision is expected to be the subject of an ongoing legal fight in the months ahead. Source
  • Nigerian police: Boko Haram to free 1 more kidnapped girl

    World News CTV News
    MAIDUGURI, Nigeria -- Nigeria's police chief says another girl who was abducted from a school in Dapchi last month is being brought back by her kidnappers. Police Inspector General Muhammed Abubakar said Saturday that he cancelled a trip to Dapchi to avoid interfering with the release. Source
  • Quebec doctors protest their own raises, call for improved patient accessibility

    Canada News CBC News
    When Lashanda Skerritt decided to go to medical school, money was far from being the first thing on her mind — she wanted to serve the population. She is among hundreds of health care workers, patients and community groups who marched in protest of raises for doctors in the province. Source
  • New Brunswick man reaches halfway point of 3,000-kilometre dog sled trek

    Canada News CTV News
    A New Brunswick man making a 3,000-kilometre dog sled trek from Manitoba to his home province says the journey thus far has been "a mix of beauty and terror." Justin Allen and his 12 Alaskan huskies left Churchill, Man. Source
  • 'A revolving door': Neighbours angry about Burnaby B.C. home operating as 9-bedroom hotel

    Canada News CTV News
    A multi-million dollar Burnaby, B.C. home that was advertising nine rooms on short-term rental sites like Airbnb and has neighbours calling on municipal authorities to shut down the de-facto hotel. The house was bought for $2.65 million last September. Source
  • Anti-pipeline protests continue in Burnaby, B.C.

    Canada News CTV News
    BURNABY, B.C. -- Anti-pipeline protesters are continuing to demonstrate near Kinder Morgan's terminal in Burnaby, B.C., today. Dozens of people followed Indigenous leaders in a march toward a gate to the Burnaby Terminal, with organizers saying more than 70 of them were prepared to be arrested. Source
  • Musicians Sarah Harmer, Grimes join B.C. pipeline protests

    Canada News CTV News
    BURNABY, B.C. -- Musicians Sarah Harmer and Grimes joined dozens of Indigenous youth and other demonstrators who gathered at Kinder Morgan's Burnaby Terminal on Saturday morning to protest the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline. Source
  • Gun control rallies being held in over a dozen Canadian cities in support of March for Our Lives

    Canada News CBC News
    More than a dozen Canadian cities are hosting marches to call for stricter gun control laws in both Canada and the United States in the wake of a deadly high school shooting that killed 17 people in Parkland, Fla. Source
  • Gun control rallies held in over a dozen Canadian cities in support of March for Our Lives

    Canada News CBC News
    More than a dozen Canadian cities are hosting marches to call for stricter gun control laws in both Canada and the United States in the wake of a deadly high school shooting that killed 17 people in Parkland, Fla. Source