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Wednesday, Jun 15, 2005
Defendant/Suspect: Mark Gary Bedford
Case Updates: 1 update(s) available
A 22-year-old Kingston man convicted of Internet sex crimes against young girls, involving what Crown attorney Ross Drummond described in court as an "unprecedented" number of victims, has been sentenced to three years in a penitentiary and prohibited for life from communicating online with anyone under the age of 14.
Mark Gary Bedford, who until yesterday had no criminal record, was also ordered to provide DNA to police and prohibited for 10 years from having weapons or explosives.
His name was ordered included in the national sex offender registry for 20 years and Justice Judith Beaman imposed a 10-year court order that banishes him from public parks, swimming areas, day-care centres, school grounds, playgrounds or community centres where anyone under 14, is or could reasonably be expected to be, present.
The same 10-year order makes it a criminal offence for Bedford to work or volunteer in any capacity that would place him in a position of trust or authority over children under 14. And Beaman slapped a child-proof lock on his Internet use with the third part of her order, prohibiting him from ever again using a computer system to communicate with a child under 14. Violation of any part of that order would make him liable to a return to jail or prison for up to two years.
Bedford pleaded guilty in Kingston's Ontario Court of Justice in January to 10 crimes, several of them complex, committed between June 2005 and July 2006, using the Internet.
His offences include one charge of mischief to data, committed against multiple victims when he took over their Internet accounts and assumed their identities in order to prey on girls on their contact lists.
He also pleaded guilty to two counts of extortion, which was the means he used to force multiple victims to expose their breasts and commit a variety of sex acts in front of their web cameras.
'Reality for you has become distorted'
As well, he pleaded guilty to one charge of fraudulent impersonation, committed repeatedly when he assumed the online identities of various young girls in order to dupe their friends and online acquaintances.
Bedford further admitted to the relatively new offence of online luring, involving the coercion of multiple child victims, through trickery and threats, to commit sexual acts for his viewing.
Separate convictions were registered on charges of inciting a child to commit bestiality with a dog; criminal harassment involving multiple victims; and other charges, each involving multiple victims, of making, distributing and possessing child pornography - although Beaman was told there's no evidence Bedford shared his private cache of graphic images with other online predators or attempted to sell them.
As far as investigators were able to determine, he transmitted the captured images only to his victims and potential victims, using them to blackmail girls into acting out his escalating sexual fantasies in front of their web cameras.
Drummond, who secured an order from the judge for the forfeiture and destruction of Bedford's seized personal computer and hard drives, observed that no one can be sure that the images he made will disappear with them, however. There's "no guarantee that somewhere in the future these images aren't going to resurface again," he told the judge.
Both Drummond and Bedford's lawyer, Dave Crowe, urged a three-year prison sentence to Beaman in a joint recommendation. Crowe told her that it would allow his client to take advantage of sex offender programs that aren't available to the same degree in the provincial jail system.
Drummond said he would be remiss, however, if he didn't bring to the judge's attention a similar case from Alberta, involving far fewer victims, where a judge chose to impose a nine-year prison sentence, which was more than the Crown had recommended.
Beaman was impressed enough to adopt an analogy the judge in that case had used, comparing online predation to crawling through an open window in a house to prey on a child.
Not only did Bedford violate his victims, she said, but "he also undermined their parents' confidence in their ability to protect their children. That constitutes collateral harm in my view."
She concluded that the lawyers' joint recommendation was reasonable, however, and could find no justification to reject it.
Still, Beaman was concerned by Bedford's disclosure to the author of his pre-sentence report that he'd actually been preying on girls online since he was 16.
She noted his lack of insight, but dismissed his claims to the pre-sentence report's author that he believed all of his victims were at least 14. If that was true, she said, it was willful blindness.
The judge was also unimpressed by Bedford's characterization of his victims as liars and the police as incompetents looking for a scapegoat. "Nor can he bring himself to express any remorse for the victims," she said.
Beaman received 20 victim impact statements in connection with Bedford's case and disclosed that they express a full range of impacts. There were girls who felt annoyed at being asked to participate or thought they'd been made fools. Others were humiliated and one wrote that she's contemplated suicide.
Crowe suggested that many of his client's shortcomings derive from his physical and emotional immaturity and "social isolation" growing up. He told the judge that Bedford had to overcome a learning disability and that his client's therapist believes his "sexual maturity is five years behind," his chronological age.
Beaman accepted that, but told Bedford his pre-sentence report also made it clear to her that he's confined himself for the last few years to his family's basement, obsessed with his computer.
"Reality for you has become distorted," she said. "You think this is how everyone your age behaves. It's not."
She told him "you need to start interacting with the real world and not just the fantasy world that you've created."
|A Kingston man who investigators believe preyed on more than 100 young girls online has waived his right to seek parole and is staying behind bars.|
Mark Gary Bedford, 23, was sentenced last March to three years in prison after he pleaded guilty to 10 crimes, including luring over the Internet, inciting a child to commit bestiality with a dog and extortion.
He was eligible to seek full parole five days ago, after serving one third of his sentence, but he declined his right to a hearing, said Carol Sparling, speaking in Kingston for the National Parole Board.
Bedford can seek a hearing at any time. If he does not, he is likely to be freed March 14, 2010, his statutory release date. Most convicts are set free on statutory release after serving two thirds of their sentences.
The law governing prisons and parole requires authorities to free an inmate at his statutory release date unless he's considered likely to commit a new, serious offence. Only a very small percentage of offenders are detained each year past their statutory release dates.
Bedford used a computer in his parents' Kingston home to exploit and extort young girls on two continents.
He used threats of rape and death to force girls aged nine to 15 to perform sex acts in front of webcams. He recorded and broadcast the images and extorted more graphic acts from girls by threatening to distribute the images he'd already collected.
In many cases, he hacked into friend lists and tricked girls into performing in front of webcams by pretending to be a female friend.
In one case, he coerced a girl to perform sex acts with her young sister.
There were victims in King - ston, Ottawa, Sault Ste. Marie and in the county of Kent, England.
Bedford admitted to authorities, while he was awaiting trial, that he'd been preying on girls since he was 16.
Bedford characterized his victims as liars and did not show any remorse, the judge who heard his case noted.
The judge read 20 victim impact statements including one from a girl who said she had contemplated suicide.
Bedford committed his online crimes from a computer in the basement of his family's Glengarry Road home between June 2005 and July 2006.
|Source: The Whig - March 19, 2009|
Update posted on Mar 19, 2009 - 9:54AM
- The Whig Standard - March 15, 2008
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