NEWS

Sexting by youth a 'psychological time bomb,' sentencing judge says

07/14/2015 10:24 EDT | Updated 07/14/2016 05:59 EDT
A 14-year-old boy in Nova Scotia has been sentenced to six months of deferred custody, followed by 12 months' probation, as well as counselling and restricted internet access for possession of child pornography. 

Provincial court Judge Del W. Atwood released his decision in Pictou, during a resumption on Tuesday of sentencing that began in May.

The boy pleaded guilty to all charges following the discovery of sexually explicit images of young females on his smartphone. 

A deferred custody sentence allows a youth to serve the sentence in the community under specified conditions, rather than remain in custody. The boy in this case will also have to provide a DNA sample and forfeit his smartphone.

The sentencing report says the 14-year old, referred to as C.N.T in the decision, was initially searched by police on Nov. 9, 2014, after he and a friend were found going through unlocked cars. 

At that point, police inspected his smartphone and found pictures, some sexually explicit, of girls ranging in age from 14 to 16. A number of the pictures were of his girlfriend.

In an interview with police, one of the girls said the male coaxed her to take the sexually explicit selfies.

A series of text messages shows the 14-year-old extorted photos from her by saying he wouldn't be her boyfriend otherwise. 

In the report, Atwood laid out his decision to treat the crime as a violent one. 

He said in his ruling that even if the full impact of sexting isn't felt by the victims now, research shows that some day, there will be a psychological impact. 

"Offences of this nature are, yes, psychological time bombs, and no one who commits this sort of crime can claim ignorance," Atwood wrote.

Atwood also noted that the offences took place about a year and a half after the death of Rehtaeh Parsons, the Nova Scotia teen who was bullied online and later took her own life.

Canada in 'transformational shift' in youth cases

"In that intervening time, this province and this country underwent a transformational shift in recognizing the vulnerability of young people — particularly females — to trauma, psychological harm, serial victimization and predation as a result of people ... doing precisely what C.N.T. did to his victims, " he said. 

Atwood also had some strong words for the lawyers in the case. 

The sentencing hearing on May 27 was adjourned when the judge felt an 18-month probationary period wouldn't be a meaningful consequence to the youth, and because Atwood felt there wasn't sufficient effort to obtain victim-impact statements. 

"The simple fact is that it should not require reference to legislation to know that canvassing for victim-impact evidence on the day of sentencing is likely not enough to get it before the court on time," he said. 

Two statements were submitted to the court in time for the delayed sentencing hearing.

MORE:cbcNews