With the thoughtless push of a button, Dennis Warrington wreaked havoc on a young woman’s life.
“Your actions actually ruined my life,” the woman told Warrington in court Wednesday, sobbing.
Warrington sat still and silent as the 18-year-old described the harm he caused when he decided to post photos of her engaged in sex acts at a party on his Face-book page two years ago.
“Dennis, you destroyed the person that I used to be,” she said.
“You changed my life for the worse. You’ve caused me severe emotional pain and damage and your actions put my life on hold for a whole year as I tried my hardest to want to get up in the morning. You’ve made me question the society I live in.”
Warrington, 21, was initially charged with publishing and distributing child pornography in connection with the postings.
However, in December he pleaded guilty to distributing obscene matter.
A sentencing hearing took place Wednesday in B.C. Provincial Court in Port Coquitlam.
In the early morning hours of Sept. 11, 2010, a 16-year-old boy took eight photos and a video of two people engaged in sex acts at an outdoor rave in Pitt Meadows.
The complainant said the sex acts were not consensual.
She said that she accepted a drink from a stranger and that it was drugged. She blacked out and has little memory of what happened after consuming the drink.
A friend emailed three photos to Warrington later in the morning.
He received them as he ate breakfast at a restaurant with friends.
Warrington told police and a psychologist that his friends encouraged him to post the photos.
He said he posted them because he wanted to find out who was in them.
Crown prosecutor Wendy Van Tongeren Harvey said Warrington instead sought to entertain himself and his friends at the expense of the complainant.
“His motive was narcissistic,” Van Tongeren Harvey said.
As the day wore on, Warrington began to have second thoughts, however he did participate in the malicious online chatter surrounding the photos.
Within 24 hours of posting the images, he deleted them.
“But it was too late. It’s still too late,” Van Tongeren Harvey said.
The complainant received a seemingly endless stream of text and social-media messages about the photos. Some were questioning, most were mocking or threatening. She dropped out of school for a year and suffers from insomnia, anxiety and is often depressed or angry. The online attacks continue to this day.
It’s been over two years now and it’s still killing me,” she said in her victim-impact statement.
The Crown is asking for a suspended sentence, which would include a year of probation.
The probation would have conditions such as no contact with the complainant, no talking about the court case or the complainant in any online venue and completing 120 hours of community service.
Lawyer Marvin Stern argued that Warrington should not be blamed for everything that transpired after the rave because others were spreading the photos as well, however Warrington recognizes his role.
“Posting the photographs was absolutely the wrong thing to do,” Stern said.
“Absolutely. One hundred per cent.”
Stern said Warrington has matured significantly since the incident and comes before the court “ashamed and remorseful.”
In court, Warrington read out an apology letter.
“I did not realize the power (social media) held until it was used irresponsibly ... Just a few clicks and it changed your life and how the world viewed the person that you are,” Warrington said.
He called his actions “thoughtless and supremely immature” and said he will always regret what he did.
The defence is seeking a conditional discharge, which means Warrington would have no criminal record after successfully completing his probation.
The judge is scheduled to deliver her sentencing decision March 4.
Warrington was one of three people charged in connection with the incident.
The teen who took the photos pleaded guilty last February to producing child pornography and was sentenced to a year of probation.
Colton McMorris, now 20, was charged with sexual assault, but the charge was stayed.
- Jennifer Saltman is with The Province