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Child-pornography victim found online
A young woman who was shown photographs that were seized from the home of a South Surrey man charged with possession of child pornography became emotional Wednesday when asked if the teenager pictured was indeed her.
Giving evidence in the sentencing hearing of Douglas Wayne Bowers, the woman – who avoided looking at Bowers – is among 11 witnesses scheduled to appear before Judge Michael Hicks in Surrey Provincial Court.
A ban prohibits publication of any information that could identify who she is.
Wiping her eyes, she nodded, then verbally confirmed she was the subject of the photos.
In one, “I must’ve only been in Grade 10 or 11,” she said.
Bowers was charged in September 2009 with possessing and accessing child pornography, after an investigation that began in October 2008 led police to a man they described as a “prolific distributor of child sexual abuse images and video online.” A B.C. victim was identified.
Following his initial guilty plea in December 2010, Bowers had told Peace Arch News he knew there was illegal material on his computer, but that it had been inadvertently downloaded while he was visiting adult-pornography websites.
During testimony last week, Hicks heard that police seized – among other items – sexually explicit photographic prints and child sexual-abuse stories from a home in the 16200-block of 40 Avenue during a June 2009 search. Bowers’ lawyer, Robert Doran, told Hicks the defence was “willing to make an admission that Mr. Bowers was in possession of (the photographs), which should become part of the facts to which he pled guilty.”
Wednesday, the young woman told Hicks that Bowers first connected with her through Facebook. The communication progressed to instant messaging and then text-messaging.
One conversation occurred with the addition of a web-camera.
“We typed while the video stream was going on,” the woman said.
The pair never met face-to-face and never spoke on the phone, she said.
Asked by prosecutor Keith Kinash if she’d ever told Bowers she was an adult, or if she had ever sent him photos of herself, the woman said no.
The communication ended after the then-teenager told her mom that Bowers had offered her a place to stay in France.
In cross-examination, the woman replied “no” when Doran suggested that the offer of a place to stay in France was said “in the context of after you graduated from high school?”
She was also adamant that the offer was not extended to anyone but her.
Wednesday was originally scheduled as the last day of the hearing, however, the proceedings are to now continue into January, after health concerns resulted in Bowers spending much of Friday in the hospital.
Future dates were scheduled for Oct. 15 and Jan. 13.
UPDATE: Following the lunch break Wednesday, the proceedings were unexpectedly adjourned until Oct. 15, with Bowers' health cited as grounds for the postponement.