LIVING

Sex Assault Victim Blindsided When Name Posted To Facebook, She Says

03/17/2015 04:03 EDT | Updated 03/17/2015 04:59 EDT
Simone Becchetti via Getty Images

HALIFAX - A sexual assault victim in Halifax says she was blindsided when her name was posted on Facebook and she hopes it won't deter other victims from seeking justice.

The Crown read a victim impact statement Tuesday on behalf of the woman at a sentencing hearing for David Winslow Sparks, who pleaded guilty in January to violating a publication ban that protects her identity.

"I hope the actions of one angry individual intent on hurting me doesn't stop others from coming forward for justice,'' the statement said.

"One post can be seen around the world in a second and ruin someone's life in the blink of an eye.''

Crown prosecutor Janine Kidd also read an agreed statement of facts in provincial court that said Sparks, 62, posted the woman's name on a Facebook group page in support of Lyle Howe, a local lawyer who was convicted last year of sexually assaulting her. Howe was sentenced to three years in prison but he has filed an appeal.

The Facebook group had more than 6,000 members at the time Sparks used the victim's name in his post, according to a screenshot presented in court. Kidd acknowledged a post within the online group could only be seen by its members, but she argued it could have potentially spread elsewhere on the Internet.

In her statement, the victim said she was terrified of what members of the group might do once her name was posted on the Internet.

Judge Alanna Murphy said in her experience and research, she hasn't seen a situation like the one involving Sparks.

"It is a different case than courts usually see in relation to a publication ban,'' Murphy said.

"It involves an individual, it involves social media, and there's no precedent that's exactly the same that's been made known to me.''

Sparks told the court he regretted his actions, but that he misunderstood the terms of the publication ban at Howe's sentencing in July.

"The presiding judge at that time, Judge Kennedy, made mention of the alleged victim's name to a packed courtroom,'' he said, adding that he was under the impression the ban ended when Howe was sentenced.

"I know that ignorance is no excuse for one's actions.''

Outside court, Sparks said his post online was in Howe's defence.

"I realize that, you know, one can end up in court when you act on your convictions, and this is really what this is all about,'' Sparks said.

The Crown is seeking a two-month conditional sentence, with one month of house arrest and one month of curfew, followed by a period of probation. The defence is arguing for an unspecified period of probation and community service.

Sparks will be sentenced on March 30.

ALSO ON HUFFPOST

Images From 'Surviving In Numbers' -- A Project Highlighting Sexual Assault Survivors' Experiences