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

  • Teen with diabetes barred from eating snack on B.C. bus

    Canada News CTV News
    BC Transit is apologizing to a Victoria teenager with Type 1 diabetes after one of its bus drivers prevented her from eating a snack on board when her blood sugar dropped.Visit CTV Vancouver Island for more details on this story Source
  • Goodale to address RCMP oversight after years of harassment allegations against force

    Canada News CBC News
    The federal government is expected to unveil this morning some major structural changes to the RCMP and how it handles harassment— changes that have been years in the making. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale will make the announcement with RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki starting at 10 a.m. Source
  • Crushing defeat for May's deal leaves Brexit path unclear

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- Britain's Parliament has delivered a crushing verdict on Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit divorce deal, rejecting it by 432 votes to 202 -- the biggest defeat suffered by a government in modern British political history. Source
  • U.S. government's partial shutdown takes economic toll as talks to end impasse stall

    World News CBC News
    The U.S. economy is taking a larger-than-expected hit from the partial government shutdown, White House estimates show, as contractors and even the Coast Guard go without pay, and talks to end the impasse seemed stalled. The longest such shutdown in U.S. Source
  • At least 16 killed in northern Syria suicide bombing, war monitor says

    World News CBC News
    A blast struck near U.S.-led coalition forces on Wednesday in Syria's northern city of Manbij, and a war monitor said 16 people had been killed. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group and a militia source said two Americans were among the dead, but Reuters was unable to independently confirm the death toll. Source
  • Freed by court, Pakistani Christian woman still a prisoner

    World News CTV News
    ISLAMABAD -- Aasia Bibi still lives the life of a prisoner, nearly three months after the Pakistani Christian woman was acquitted of blasphemy and released from death row. She spends her days in seclusion for fear of being targeted by angry mobs clamouring for her death. Source
  • Caught on camera: Car drives off with man clinging to hood

    Canada News CTV News
    An apparent case of road rage in downtown Toronto was caught on camera. Video of the Tuesday night incident shows a man running from a parked car into a crosswalk, toward a white car stopped at a stop sign. Source
  • 'This could be a fireable offence': Calgary Sun column leaked to top city bureaucrats before it was published

    Canada News CBC News
    Calgary Sun columnist Rick Bell is a frequent critic of city hall and knows his articles are widely read within the halls of municipal power. What he didn't know, until just recently, is that top city officials had access to his work even before it was published. Source
  • China shrugs off international criticism over death sentence for Canadian

    World News CBC News
    China said on Wednesday it's "not worried in the slightest" by mounting international concern over the death sentence handed to a Canadian for drug smuggling. Monday's sentence for Robert Schellenberg for smuggling 222 kilograms of methamphetamines into China prompted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to accuse China of "arbitrarily" applying the death penalty. Source
  • U.S. Congress prepares to skip planned recess if shutdown goes on

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Staring down the next deadline to pay federal workers, the White House shifted tactics, trying to bypass House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to negotiate with rank-and-file lawmakers even as President Donald Trump dug in for a prolonged shutdown. Source