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Publication ban opposed by father of girl

HALIFAX - The father of the alleged victim in a prominent child pornography case says he's opposed to a publication ban on her identity because it will erase her tragic story from public view.

A provincial court judge in Halifax cited a mandatory publication ban Wednesday that prohibits the identification of victims in child pornography cases.

The girl's father said in an interview Thursday that he plans to oppose the ban before the courts if it isn't lifted.

The teenaged girl died last year and the case has resulted in national headlines since then.

"You've just taken something very public with my daughter and hidden it in a closet and I don't want this in a closet. I want this out in public for all to see," said the father, who cannot be identified because of the ban.

The man also says his ability to make effective arguments for reforms and to raise public awareness may be harmed by the judge's ruling.

"I think it (the ban) would have a very negative impact. A lot of what's happened in the case has happened because it's been very public," he said.

The girl's mother was unavailable for comment Thursday.

Two teens face charges of distributing child pornography in connection with the case, while one of them also faces a charge of making child pornography.

Judge Jamie Campbell cited the ban under Section 486 of the Criminal Code, which prevents the naming of victims of child pornography, after a Crown lawyer noted the relevant section.

"At this point that's a mandatory order and the mandatory order has been made because it is mandatory," the judge said in court after listening to the Crown's comment.

Campbell said he expected the order to "create considerable difficulty" for media outlets.

John Piccolo, a spokesman for the Nova Scotia courts, said Campbell has informed him he will "address the publication ban" in court on May 16.

In his comments on Wednesday, Campbell also cited Section 111 of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, which says the parents of a deceased youth may provide a waiver allowing for the identification of a victim.

Michael Scott, the father's lawyer, said he is awaiting instructions from his client on when to proceed with an application to lift the publication ban, and he will be watching to see if media outlets make a similar application.

Scott said he expects to present a waiver from the father to allow use of the young woman's name, which he says will address the relevant sections of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

However, he said the application will also deal with Section 486 of the Criminal Code.

"That's something we'll have to address and deal with and given the exceptional circumstances we think there may be an argument there," he said, adding he is still reviewing what his case may be.

Scott said he understands the need for courts to presume the identities of child pornography victims are protected, but he said the courts shouldn't put up excessive barriers for victims who want to speak publicly.

"Ideally, the way this should be dealt with is a very simple application to the court," he said.

Prof. Wayne MacKay of Dalhousie University's law school said Section 486 of the Criminal Code is not easy to overcome.

The family or media lawyers may have to make a Charter of Rights and Freedoms argument that the section, in this instance, unnecessarily restricts freedom of expression.

"If the parents felt it was somehow breaching their rights to not have the identity made public, that's the only way I can see challenging it," said MacKay, who is an expert in criminal and constitutional law.

"The only thing that would trump clear statutory language was a charter challenge of some kind."

He said some victims of sexual assault have successfully used charter arguments to have their names released.

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