KAMLOOPS, B.C. - Three teenage boys originally charged with possession and distribution of child pornography have pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of criminal harassment in a sexting scandal in Kamloops, B.C.
Crown lawyer Sarah Firestone said the 15-year-old boys, who attend separate schools, coerced several girls between the ages of 13 and 15 to send nude photos of themselves on social media sites.
Then they shared the images, much like "trading hockey cards," Firestone told B.C. Supreme Court.
She said the boys caused their victims to fear for their safety.
"The harm hasn't been fully realized and the images could end up in the hands of a predator."
The exchanges of photos and texts with girls utilized a variety of social media options, including Snapchat.
Firestone said some of the girls were under the impression the photos would disappear using Snapchat, but the boys used methods to keep the images.
"This is strange new ground," she said. "It comes with recent developments in technology. These are things that would never happen face-to-face. I have a hard time thinking young men would come up to random strangers and ask them for nude pictures."
The Crown said images of as many as 32 girls, semi-clothed and topless, were circulated. In two instances, parents turned cellphones over to school authorities after some information and applications were deleted. In some instances, the boys, who were 14 at the time, sent pictures of their genitals.
The Crown is seeking a year's probation, along with a ban on any mobile devices with photographic capabilities and an Internet connection.
Defence lawyer Kevin Church said the teens weren't running a child-porn ring and were receiving images, not photographing the girls.
He said one of the girls sent 50 images in one month.
Church and defence lawyer Bill Sundhu have both called for a conditional discharge, saying their clients are scapegoats.
Twenty-five other boys were named in disclosure to lawyers, but the Crown did not lay charges against them, Church said.
"They've been dragged through court to say, "'You can't keep doing this,'" Church said of the trio.
The boys' names are protected by a publication ban under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. (CHNL, Kamloops This Week)
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