A man who posted revealing photos of his girlfriend on social media after she broke up with him should not do jail time, lawyers for both sides agreed on Thursday (Aug. 11).
Kaiden Harris, 23, appeared in Abbotsford provincial court for his sentencing hearing after previously pleading guilty to criminal harassment.
Two other charges – distribution of intimate images and extortion – have been stayed.
Crown lawyer Dorothy Tsui recommended that Harris receive a six-month conditional sentence (house arrest) and one year of probation, while Harris’s lawyer, Alexis Falk, suggested a suspended sentence and two years of probation.
The judge has reserved her decision for a later date.
Tsui told the court that Harris and his ex-girlfriend were in a relationship for about 10 months, starting in July 2019.
Tsui said the woman described the relationship as “somewhat toxic and that the two had very different lifestyles.”
She broke up with Harris on April 24, 2020, after which he was apprehended by the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) under the Mental Health Act, taken to hospital and discharged that day, Tsui said.
She said Harris continuously called and texted the woman, even though she told him not to contact her.
The APD again contacted Harris and warned him that he could face criminal harassment charges if the continued to contact the woman, Tsui said.
But over April 24 and 25, 2020, Harris called his ex-girlfriend between 250 and 300 times, Tsui said.
Interspersed with the calls were numerous text messages, including several in which he told her to answer the calls or he would post nude photos of her on social media.
Harris also called one of the woman’s close friends 64 times, Tsui said.
On the evening of April 24, Harris posted several photos of the woman to his personal Instagram account and through the VSCO photo-sharing website. One of the pictures showed her topless, Tsui said.
She said Harris then posted a second set of four photos to Instagram which showed the victim in her underwear and topless. These photos were ones that she had only previously shared with Harris, Tsui said.
When the woman called Harris and pleaded with him to remove the photos, Tsui said Harris’s response was: “Get back with me and I will take the photos down.”
Harris was arrested for criminal harassment on the evening of April 26, 2020, and was told by the arresting officer to remove the photos, which Harris did.
Tsui said the circumstances left the victim “profoundly affected,” resulting in her seeking counselling.
Tsui said a psychiatric assessment of Harris prepared for the court indicated that Harris is remorseful about the incident and has taken counselling, which has provided him with insight into his behaviour.
“It’s clear that Mr. Harris was struggling with his mental health that day and it certainly did contribute to the offending,” Tsui said.
Falk said that her client is “extremely remorseful,” has shown “steady, steady progress” in making changes in his life and has a strong family support system. He plans to continue to take counselling, she said.
“At the end of the day, what we have is a young man who made a mistake,” Falk said.
She said young people who have grown up around social media might be used to provocative types of online behaviours, such as “sexting.”
“It’s pervasive and they don’t have a sense at their age what the consequences can be … Young people are engaging in it constantly to such a degree that it almost doesn’t matter to them until something like this happens,” she said.
Harris was given the opportunity to speak to the court.
“I take full responsibility for what I did. I know I caused her a lot of emotional harm that she will probably have for the rest of her life,” he said.