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Teen from Samson Cree Nation receives conditional discharge in online child pornography case

Judge opted for cultural support, conditional discharge over probation
(Stock image/Creative Outlet)

Warning: The contents of this article may be disturbing to some readers.

A youth from Samson Cree Nation who pleaded guilty to an online child pornography offence received a 14-month conditional discharge earlier this year.

A conditional discharge is when a finding of guilt is made but the offender won’t have a conviction on their criminal record if they follow the conditions set out in a probation order.

The judge in the case took into consideration the relatively lower level of harm to the victims, the offender’s age, mental capacity, and background as an Indigenous person.

In the written decision dated Jan. 11, 2024, the Hon. Justice J.C. Lloyd imposed the discharge with certain conditions attached.

The youth, who cannot be identified because he is a minor, was 15 at the time of the offence. He had no prior criminal record.

According to court documents, the youth took pornographic images of himself. Also in the photos were two children, aged seven and eight.

In the photos, the youth appeared to make contact with the children, but he did not, the document states. The photos were taken without the children’s knowledge and they were not identifiable in the photos.

The youth then uploaded the photos to a website the police were monitoring and was arrested as a result.

“I find that the harm done to the victims was on the lower end of the harm spectrum that can be caused by these types of crimes,” said Lloyd.

“To be clear, there was harm — there is always serious harm that results from crimes of child pornography.”

After his arrest, the youth underwent a psychological assessment which included an IQ test. While it was determined he didn’t appear to have any mental illnesses, it was found he had a significantly low IQ.

A family member also suggested he may have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, though he wasn’t assessed for that condition.

The psychological assessment and a Gladue report were submitted as evidence at the sentencing hearing.

Included in his personal history was the loss of his mother in tragic circumstances two years prior and the loss of his best friend to suicide at around the same time.

The Crown sought 24 months’ probation in order to allow time for the youth to complete counselling at Centre Point in Edmonton, asking for a longer period of probation due to the program’s current scheduling and operating delays.

In the written decision, Lloyd said it wouldn’t be appropriate to impose a longer sentence in order to accommodate the program’s schedule.

Lloyd also rejected the defence’s submission of a 12-month conditional discharge as not long enough.

The conditions of the discharge include reporting to probation, residing with one of his grandparents unless otherwise authorized, having no contact with the complainants, attending with a Samson Cree Nation elder for counselling and direction, and 30 hours of community service that may be completed by attending the Day Walker Program or other approved cultural programs supervised by an elder.

“I find that (his) best chance of rehabilitation and reintegration into society is to connect to his culture and his community, to connect to elders and to local community services sensitive to the specific history of trauma experienced by (himself) and other members of the Samson Cree Nation,” said Lloyd.

The first review of the discharge is scheduled for April 18, in Edmonton.

Emily Jaycox

About the Author: Emily Jaycox

I’m Emily Jaycox, the editor of Ponoka News and the Bashaw Star. I’ve lived in Ponoka since 2015 and have over seven years of experience working as a journalist in central Alberta communities.
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