A B.C. man has received an eight-month conditional sentence for possessing images of children being sexually assaulted — including by adults, a case that came to light when Instagram reported it to police.
Provincial court Judge Joanne Challenger said the sentence was justified given C.L.’s social isolation and emotional and physical bullying as a child.
“It should be recognized that it represents a markedly lenient disposition. There will be a period of probation to follow for three years,” Challenger said.
The judge added denunciation of such a crime is important.
“The children who suffered in the making of such abhorrent images deserve retribution,” she said.
Challenger’s March 30 decision said a video image of children being sexually assaulted and exploited was uploaded by the 27-year-old to his 'Moose is Loose' Instagram account and sent on to another account with the name “Maya Wright” on March 7, 2020.
A second video with similar content was uploaded to 'ChiefPoundrHard,' a different Instagram account held by the offender, and sent to “Maya Wright.”
Instagram reported the activity and an investigation identified C.L. as the holder of the accounts.
A search warrant was executed at C.L.’s residence. “Various devices were located in his bedroom, which contained a collection of images and videos of children being sexually assaulted and exploited,” Challenger said.
“His collection was substantial and contained many images of penetrative sexual assaults between children and adults,” Challenger said.
The judge said an examination of the devices showed C.L. was involved in online chat groups that discussed images of children being sexually assaulted and exploited.
“He had also been communicating with another person in a chat room about trading such images,” Challenger wrote. “The offender had been using three apps to access 'exclusive' content, facilitate the downloading of complex files and to obscure the use of sexually explicit language.”
C.L. admitted his involvement in the activity.
He had been collecting images of children being sexually assaulted or exploited for about six years dating back to when he got his first iPad at age 21. He said he was drawn into the trading of images and did so to try and impress the people he was communicating with, the judge said.
“One such person wanted images showing younger and younger children being sexually assaulted,” Challenger said. “The offender felt pressured to provide the images as he was afraid he would be exposed and bring shame to his family. He searched the internet and forwarded such images on. The offender was engaged in similar activity with at least two other persons.”
Challenger found C.L.’s family members have been impacted by the assimilation policies and Canada's residential school system.
“He has been negatively impacted by the intergenerational trauma which resulted,” she said. “He has some cognitive limitations and mental health challenges. He is also naive and lacks the life skills or experiences which would normally be expected for a 27-year-old person.”
The ruling noted C.L. is described as a "warm, kind, big-hearted person."
“Despite his mental health issues, he generally presents as optimistic and easy-going.”
The judge believed C.L. would be “extremely vulnerable to abuse in a correctional institution.”
She said C.L.'s early guilty plea, his sincere remorse and continuing steps to improve his mental and physical health, suggest he will remain a low risk to re-offend.