The 21-year-old was granted a conditional discharge for posting pictures of a 16-year-old girl being sexually assaulted on Facebook.
Yesterday, Dennis Warrington appeared in B.C. Provincial Court in Port Coquitlam for sentencing. Although originally charged with making and distributing child pornography, he pleaded in guilty in December to the lesser charge of distributing obscene material.
The incident that gave rise to the charge occurred at a rave held in Pitt Meadow on Sept. 11, 2010. According to police, the 16-year-old girl, whose identity is protected, was given a drug and then raped by up to six men. Colton McMorris, the only person who was charged in the attack, had the charge of sexual assault stayed after prosecutors determined there was insufficient evidence to obtain a conviction.
Warrington was one of about 200 people at the rave but did not take the pictures and says he did not witness the incident. He received the photos from a friend the next day and posted them on Facebook. Although he removed the pictures about 24 hours later, they had already been re-posted and remained in cyberspace.
In court, Warrington apologized to the victim and said, "By the time I realized what I had done, it was too late." In finding a conditional discharge should be granted, Judge Shenhni Sossa took into account his apology, the fact he followed strict conditions while out on bail and the fact he was "scarred" after spending three days in jail. A discharge is technically not a conviction.
Warrington was placed on probation for 18 months and ordered to perform 120 hours of community service. The terms of his probation include no contact with the victim and her family, he cannot talk about the case, and he must send cease-and-desist letters to those he knows have posted the pictures online. He is also prohibited from viewing pornography during the 18 months and police have the right to check his computer to ensure he is complying with the terms.
The now 18-year-old victim has forgiven Warrington. She said, "The kid got a second chance. I really hope he learns from what he did, and he puts his second chance to good use because you don't get them every day."
As to the effect the posting of the pictures had on her, she said, "It's been hell. It's been really tough and it's still tough today. But you have to pick yourself up of the pavement and move on because you can't delve on it forever. As bad as it was, the situation is, it was a crazy learning experience for me and everybody."
If Warrington successfully completes his probation, he will have no criminal record.