The three boys, who are now 15 and cannot be named under a provision of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, were given conditional discharges by Judge Roy Dickey.
The Crown dropped the child-pornography distribution charges in exchange for the three pleading guilty to criminal harassment in what prosecutors called a "sexting" case involving demands to young girls for nude photos — demands that in some cases were persistent and involved threats to share the photos with other people.
Dickey called the boys' actions "immature and demeaning," but said they were unfairly stigmatized by the original charges of distribution of child pornography.
"The evidence does, however, support the charge of criminal harassment," Dickey said Tuesday in his ruling.
He ordered the boys to attend school or work and take counselling, if directed, and have limited use of their cellphones over the next six months. They must also perform 20 hours of community work service and apologize to the victims.
The Crown had asked in October for 12 months of probation, including 50 hours of community service.
Defence lawyers asked Dickey to sentence their clients to a lesser conditional discharge, saying the arrests and publicity have left the boys socially isolated — in particular because they were banned from using cellphones for eight months.
The police investigation began in January, after a Kamloops high-school student informed a staff member at a local school about an alleged incident.
Crown counsel Sarah Firestone said during an October sentencing hearing that the three boys traded images of girls who were between 13 and 15 years of age and who attended different Kamloops high schools.
Defence lawyers said 25 other boys were named in disclosure, but Crown did not lay charges against them.
Images of as many as 32 girls, semi-clothed and topless, were circulated, according to Crown information provided to the defence.
(Kamloops This Week)