Man forced young girls to strip via webcams
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A 25-year-old who forced teenage girls to strip over the Internet by blackmailing them has been handed an unprecedented nine-year prison sentence.
With his long, black hair curling around his face, Joshua Innes showed little emotion as court heard the disturbing nature of his Internet conversations where he “groomed” young Alberta women into trusting him.
In delivering his judgment, Provincial Court Judge James Wheatley said the Internet provides predators with a new window into the secure homes of children.
“These predators have an easy ‘in’ and are afforded a new and frightening gateway to children through the Internet,” he said.
“Courts must send a strong message to Mr. Innes and individuals who would model his schemes that this criminal activity will not be tolerated. Children must be protected. This gateway must be shut down.”
In an agreed statement of facts, Innes admitted to posing as “Nicky,” a 16-year-old Calgary girl, on Nexopia, a popular social networking website.
He soon gained the trust of a 13-year-old girl from Edmonton, convincing the teenager to take off her clothes in front of a webcam and perform sexual acts. The victim wasn’t aware Innes was recording the activity on his computer.
Revealing his true identity, he later demanded she strip naked again, threatening he would post copies of the first video on the Internet, at her school and at her mother’s workplace if she didn’t comply.
The victim quickly told a friend, who revealed the activity to her parents, who called police.
Innes, who took on a variety of fake identities and contacted hundreds of teenage girls, then tried to blackmail a 14-year-old from Airdrie, Alta., into performing similar sexual acts, but she refused.
Innes, originally from Montreal, had his sentence reduced to just over six years since he entered an early guilty plea, had no prior criminal record and has already served time in custody.
For the next 20 years, Innes is prohibited from visiting a public park or playground where residents under the age of 14 may be located.
Outside the courthouse, Crown prosecutor Diane Hollinshead said the judge’s decision sends a strong message that Internet crimes will not be tolerated.
“There are no boundaries when it comes to these offences,” she said. “It’s just a click of a mouse so it can come from anywhere in the country. Anywhere in the world we can find these victims and offenders.”