Prosecution supports Trail youth's sentence in Internet luring/sexual exploitation case
Judge Don Sperry sentenced a Trail youth to two years of treatment and supervision after pleading guilty to 10 of 47 charges in Castlegar court Tuesday. The charges, ranging from extortion to impersonation, relate to the Internet luring of 10 boys between the ages of 10 and 14 years old, who were then coerced to commit sexual acts.
The 17-year-old youth, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was given the stiffest non-custodial penalty available, called an Intensive Support and Supervision Order, according to Deputy Regional Crown Counsel Phil Seagram.
Seagram said he supported recommendations that eschewed jail time, despite his prosecutorial role in this case.
“Absolutely, I endorsed it,” he said. “The court had the benefit of some really detailed reports that were conducted by a psychiatrist, a psychologist, the youth worker and a youth councillor, examining family background, educational background, psychological testing, attitude toward treatment and counselling, and more.
“All were unanimous in their opinion that incarceration would be counter-productive.”
Seagram went on to say that it “was very clear from the information put before the court that this young man had a compulsion, and that he wanted to stop, but couldn’t”.
“I thought it was very clear, in this case, that the protection of the people would best be served by the kind of sentence that was imposed.”
He said one of the factors making this case unusual is the narrow scope of the youth’s criminal behavior.
“It was really far-reaching in terms of the number of victims, but narrow in terms of the type of behavior,” he said, explaining the court usually sees clusters of red-flag activity ranging from substance abuse to theft to fighting – none of which were in evidence here. “There was no other behavior that was anti-social.
He also said the case served to bring a murky modern problem into clear relief.
“This is obviously representative of a larger issue about the Internet and technology, and knowing what your kids are doing online,” he said. “He (the youth) is really just an illustration of the larger problem associated with the type of technology that exists now.
“What I’ve seen more and more and more of is (crimes committed via) text messaging,” he said, explaining crimes like threats and criminal harassment are made easy, portable and inexpensive by virtue of texting technology.
“I’m hopeful that all the media attention this case is getting does not act to the detriment of this boy and he’s able to get the help he need,” he concluded, adding the onus is now on the community to also give the victims opportunity to heal and move forward.