A Crown prosecutor took extra steps to protect photographs of a teenage girl taken during an alleged sexual assault at a Pitt Meadows rave by asking defence to pledge that the evidence would be returned at the end of a trial.
Wendy van Tongeren Harvey made the request Thursday in Port Coquitlam Provincial Court at the start of a trial for Dennis John Allen Warrington, who is accused of posting the graphic photographs on his Facebook page.
“It is illegal to possess these images,” van Tongeren Harvey said as she told the court how the photos had been shared before on the Internet.
“It just doesn’t help to know that there are images out there unless we know they are under strict lock and key.”
She worried that the photographs may be stolen if they were given to Warrington’s lawyer, Marvin Stern.
“We all know that people have cars broken into … that’s the Crown’s concern,” van Tongeren Harvey said, although Stern assured her the images would not be viewed by anyone other than himself, his co-counsel and kept in his office.
Van Tongeren Harvey and Stern eventually reached an agreement for Stern to sign an undertaking, promising to return the photographs to a RCMP officer on Oct. 5.
The allegations against Warrington stem from a party held on a farm at 12993 Harris Rd. on Sept. 10, 2010.
He is the only adult still facing charges in connection with the rave. A charge of sexual assault laid against another young man was stayed last February after Crown found the evidence did not provide a substantial likelihood of conviction.
Although Warrington was at the party billed as “Another Night in Bangkok,” he did not witness the alleged sex assault.
A young man, who was 16 at the time, took photographs of the sexual activity and sent them to his friends, who shared them with others, including Warrington. RCMP recovered 19 photographs from the teen’s Blackberry, although he had deleted them. The teenage boy was arrested by police and charged with making child pornography.
A day after the rave, Warrington posted the photographs on Facebook, with a caption that wondered who the girl was. He did not know the identify of the victim.
Once the photographs were posted on Facebook, they spread like “wildfire,” in the words of police.
[The victim] has no recollection of the events, said van Tongeren Harvey.
“Her evidence will be that she did not consent to the sexual activity.”
A day later, the teen woke up feeling sore, the court heard. Her friends then informed her about the images being shared on Facebook.
By then, another teen had informed police about the images. That teen eventually provided police with a printout from her Facebook page.
Van Tongeren Harvey told the court she would be calling witnesses who will speak to the issue of consent regarding the sexual activity and sharing the images on Facebook.
The court also heard that the girl and the young man accused of assaulting her went to McDonald’s for breakfast after the party, together. Police seized surveillance footage from the fast-food chain, which will be presented as evidence during the trial.
Crown entered into evidence a box full of exhibits, including clothing from the victim, a Blackberry and five booklets of photographs.
The trial or Warrington is expected to take 10 days.
The teenage boy, who was initially charged with making and distributing child pornography, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of distributing obscene material and was sentence Feb. 10 to 12 months probation.