Ontario Judge Regards Sharing of Intimate Video as Sexual Assault in Canadian First

In an age when all of us can be connected to anyone and anywhere from the palm of our hand there are bound to be just as many negatives as there are positives.

We’ve all cringed after we posted something in the wrong Whatsapp conversation, or maybe you’ve sent an incriminating photo to the person directly above your partner in your contact list.

Or possibly there was no mishap at all – you hit send and it flashed up on your boyfriend’s screen. But then you bitterly regretted it later.

That’s what happened to JaneDoe464533. According to the Globe and Mail, under duress from her former boyfriend she filmed a sexually intimate video of herself, made him promise not to share it, and then sent it to him.

The very same day he posted the video on an online pornography site entitled “college girl pleasures herself for ex boyfriends delight” as well as showing it to all his friends, to her utter humiliation.

In a move that is being called a Canadian first, the judge in this case has compared the sharing of these intimate videos on the Internet to sexual assault and ordered the defendant to pay $100,000 to his ex-girlfriend.

Despite being uploaded over four years ago, the victim is still emotionally fragile and fears that the video may reappear and damage her career or future employment. The court heard how she cried for days and attended a crisis centre for her anguish with her mother.

Following the incident, which occurred in 2011, she went to the police; but at the time there was no law making it a crime to publish the images without consent. Parliament since passed one in 2014, but in 2011 the only existing legislation was for child pornography and as JaneDoe464533 was eighteen at the time she was not covered under the law.

This ruling by Justice David Stinson fills a legal hole that has previously eluded victims whose intimate images have been shared and now sets precedence for them to sue for breach of confidence.

Manitoba introduced an intimate-images law last year due to growing pressure from sharing sites. These sites have created a home for the use of private pictures and videos to be displayed as revenge porn posted by angry and twisted exes.

Justice David Stinson of the Ontario Superior Court deemed the case equivalent to multiple assaults on the female victim, since it is impossible to know with any certainty if the video is still in circulation.

It would appear that justice comes in many forms and this ruling provides a tiny silver lining for victims. Although the money can never truly make amends for the years of distress suffered by the victim, it’s a landmark case.

And one that sends a powerful message.