A man who posted revealing photos of his girlfriend on social media after she broke up with him should not do jail time, lawyers for both sides agreed on Thursday (Aug. 11).
The man, 23, appeared in Abbotsford provincial court for his sentencing hearing after previously pleading guilty to criminal harassment.
Two other charges – distribution of intimate images and extortion – have been stayed.
Crown lawyer Dorothy Tsui recommended that he receive a six-month conditional sentence (house arrest) and one year of probation, while the man’s lawyer, Alexis Falk, suggested a suspended sentence and two years of probation.
The judge has reserved her decision until Sept. 21.
Tsui told the court that the man and his ex-girlfriend were in a relationship for about 10 months, starting in July 2019.
Tsui said the woman described the relationship as “somewhat toxic and that the two had very different lifestyles.”
She broke up with the man on April 24, 2020, after which he was apprehended by the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) under the Mental Health Act, taken to hospital and discharged that day, Tsui said.
She said he continuously called and texted the woman, even though she told him not to contact her.
The APD again contacted the man and warned him that he could face criminal harassment charges if the continued to contact the woman, Tsui said.
But over April 24 and 25, 2020, he called his ex-girlfriend between 250 and 300 times, Tsui said.
Interspersed with the calls were numerous text messages, including several in which he told her to answer the calls or he would post nude photos of her on social media.
He also called one of the woman’s close friends 64 times, Tsui said.
On the evening of April 24, he posted several photos of the woman to his personal Instagram account and through the VSCO photo-sharing website. One of the pictures showed her topless, Tsui said.
She said the man then posted a second set of four photos to Instagram which showed the victim in her underwear and topless. These photos were ones that she had only previously shared with him, Tsui said.
When the woman called him and pleaded with him to remove the photos, Tsui said the man’s response was: “Get back with me and I will take the photos down.”
He was arrested for criminal harassment on the evening of April 26, 2020, and was told by the arresting officer to remove the photos, which he did.
Tsui said the circumstances left the victim “profoundly affected,” resulting in her seeking counselling.
Tsui said a psychiatric assessment of the man prepared for the court indicated that he is remorseful about the incident and has taken counselling, which has provided him with insight into his behaviour.
“It’s clear that (he) was struggling with his mental health that day and it certainly did contribute to the offending,” Tsui said.
Falk said that her client is “extremely remorseful,” has shown “steady, steady progress” in making changes in his life and has a strong family support system. He plans to continue to take counselling, she said.
“At the end of the day, what we have is a young man who made a mistake,” Falk said.
She said young people who have grown up around social media might be used to provocative types of online behaviours, such as “sexting.”
“It’s pervasive and they don’t have a sense at their age what the consequences can be … Young people are engaging in it constantly to such a degree that it almost doesn’t matter to them until something like this happens,” she said.
The man was given the opportunity to speak to the court.
“I take full responsibility for what I did. I know I caused her a lot of emotional harm that she will probably have for the rest of her life,” he said.