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Man who stole nude photos off B.C. woman’s phone ordered to pay her $5K

Man also threatened to post the photos to social media, Civil Resolution Tribunal found
B.C.'s Civil Resolution Tribunal ordered a man to pay a woman $5,000 on June 14, 2024 after he stole nude photos of her off of her phone.

B.C.'s Civil Resolution Tribunal ordered a man this week to pay a woman $5,000 for stealing nude photos off of her phone and threatening to post them on social media. 

The two met while hanging out with a mutual friend in February, according to Tribunal Member Andrea Ritchie's June 14 decision. 

At one point, the respondent, Byron Sowinski, asked to use the woman's phone to connect it to the TV to play music. While doing so, he secretly accessed the woman's iCloud account and sent himself 10 nude or nearly-nude photos of the woman engaged in sexual acts. He also accidentally sent one of the photos to an incorrect phone number while trying to send it to himself.

The woman, identified as J.T. to protect her identity, discovered what had happened later in the day when she looked at her outgoing messages. She called the number where the most photos had gone and reached the respondent. 

Over text, the respondent apologized for stealing the photos, but then offered to send the woman nude photos of himself. 

"The respondent also said the applicant should take it as a 'compliment' that they wanted the images, and that the images they sent to themself could be used later in the respondent’s 'spank bank,'" Ritchie wrote in her decision. 

Two days later, Sowinski texted the woman and threatened to post her photos all over social media if she kept bringing up the fact that he had stolen the photos.

Under B.C.'s Intimate Images Protection Act, which came into effect at the end of January, people who make complaints through the Civil Resolution Tribunal can be awarded up to $5,000 in damages. 

In her June 14 decision, Ritchie ordered that Sowinski pay the woman that full amount. 

"The applicant says her privacy has been violated and she has suffered from sadness and depression as a result of the respondent’s conduct. She says she has lost the motivation to socialize and instead isolates herself.  

"I find the respondent flagrantly ignored the applicant’s right to personal privacy and autonomy in sharing her intimate images. I further find their behaviour after the applicant discovered the sharing was egregious, both in their offers for reciprocal intimate images and their explanation for their use of the photos. Finally, I find the respondent’s behaviour in threatening to share the images further reprehensible."

Ritchie concluded by saying that if she wasn't bound by the $5,000 limit, she would have had Sowinski pay the woman far more. 

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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

Hi, I'm a provincial reporter with Black Press Media, where I've worked since 2020.
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