A British Columbia man has been sentenced to 14 months in jail after ignoring a court order to take down a website aimed at harassing his former wife as well as her friends and family. The site contains falsehoods intended to attack her character, as well as intimate images (otherwise known as “revenge porn“). This sentence comes less than a year after the man finished serving a previous sentence for defying the same order.
The man has a storied history of harassing his ex-wife following their divorce in 2001. The couple married in the U.S. in 2000, had a child together and separated within a year. The wife is American and resides in Arizona, and the husband is Canadian. During the marriage, the man resided in Arizona as well. A custody battle ensued over their son, which became highly contentious. During that period, the wife reported her former spouse to authorities for living in the U.S. illegally and he was deported back to Canada.
The website first appeared online in 2014 and has continued to operate since then. On it, the man falsely accuses his former spouse of ties to white supremacy, drug abuse and child abuse. He also posted intimate images of his former spouse.
In 2017, the man was found guilty of criminal harassment after a court determined he had orchestrated a campaign against her in an attempt to destroy her life. He was sentenced to four years in prison, minus time served and was released in late 2018.
As a requirement of his probation, he was ordered to take the website down but he refused. He was charged again in March 2019 for breach of probation and remained in jail until 2020. After continued refusal to comply with the court order, he has once again been sentenced to prison. In a post on the website in question, he stated,
By the time you read this I will probably be back in custody, but in case you haven’t figured it out, I just don’t give a f–k.
In addition to the website, the man targeted friends, family and co-workers of his former wife in relentless email campaigns. Included in the emails were falsehoods about her character and intimate details of her personal life.
While the harassment has persisted continuously for years, perhaps one of the most significant consequences was the wife’s loss of her job in 2015. As an IT professional, she was told that her former husband’s behaviour posed a security risk for her employer.
Revenge porn is the sharing of intimate images or videos without the consent of the subject. In the past 15 or so years, it has become more common following the breakdown of a relationship, as a means to humiliate the intended target.
In Alberta, civil claims pertaining to revenge porn are typically dealt with under the Personal Information Protection Act. While other provinces in Canada have recognized a common-law tort of invasion of privacy, Alberta has yet to do so.
The best options available to victims of revenge porn in Alberta are currently to send Cease and Desist letters to both the creators and any recipients of the images in question. Further, a skilled lawyer will work to protect their client’s reputation by filing takedown notices against third-party hosts of the images in various jurisdictions, and de-indexing images from search engine results.
In cases such as this when a person finds themselves the ongoing victim of non-violent threats by a former partner, it may make sense to obtain a restraining order. The order, when followed, prevents a person from making contact with their former spouse, either directly or indirectly. The contact order may also be extended to family, associates and friends of the victim as well.
However, these orders are only good as long as the person they are made against complies. As in the case at hand, a refusal to comply can result in an exhausting and dehumanizing experience for the target of harassment. As the wife said to the CBC after he was arrested in the fall of 2020,
I will take any amount of time that I get to live a normal life. And when he gets out again, I will hold my breath and wait for the next thing that he does, because that is my life and that is what I do.
If you are or have been a victim of revenge porn, you should contact the police immediately to report the offence. You should then seek legal advice to determine your options for civil remedies against the offender, and Mincher Koeman can help. We also regularly assist family law clients with reputation protection matters including restraining orders.
Please contact our office to make an urgent appointment to discuss your matter with one of our lawyers by calling us at 403-910-3000 or by contacting us online.
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