A man who met a 15-year-old girl on a popular social media site, picked her up at her Chilliwack school and had sex with her while filming the statutory rape, will spend more than a year-and-a-half behind bars.
In a separate incident, Sheldon James Lowney of Mission also had sex with another 15-year-old girl and filmed that, this time without the girl’s knowledge.
The now 24-year-old pleaded guilty in B.C. Supreme Court in Chilliwack to two counts of sexual interference of a person under the age of 16, one count of drug possession and one breach while out on bail.
In a July decision posted online last week, Justice Brian Joyce sentenced Lowney to 15 months in jail for the sexual interference of one girl and 14 months for the other. Those sentences are being served concurrently.
Lowney was also sentenced to four months for drug trafficking after 318 grams of marijuana were found in his residence during a search related to the rape.
It was May of 2012 when a then 15-year-old Chilliwack girl met Lowney on the website Nexopia. He was 21. The two communicated via social media and text messaging for a period of time during which explicit sexual conversations took place. Over the next few months they met several times.
In one instance, on Sept. 13, 2012, Lowney picked the girl up from a school in Chilliwack and took her to his apartment in Mission. Here they engaged in various sex acts, which Lowney filmed. He also gave her $100.
It was that recording of the sexual activity that eventually did Lowney in, according to court documents. Sometime between the September incident and November, his girlfriend at the time found out about the videos. She took still photographs of some scenes, posted them on a fake Facebook account and forwarded copies to family members of the victim. When the Chilliwack victim’s mother became aware of the Facebook photos, she contacted police.
During the execution of a search warrant on Lowney’s apartment on Dec. 7, 2012, police found 318 grams of marijuana, paraphernalia used for dealing drugs and $2,585 in cash.
Police also found a video on a hard drive of Lowney with another 15-year-old girl. This video was made without the consent of the girl, but at trial she was an uncooperative witness for the Crown, and she provided no victim impact statement. Joyce described her as a “troubled young woman.”
Lowney’s lawyer told the court the young man regrets the hurt caused to his victim.
In a victim impact statement, the Chilliwack girl said the matter left her feeling extremely “embarrassed, ashamed, confused, violated and lied to.”
“[She] expresses feelings of depression, anxiety, and loss of trust in other persons,” Joyce wrote.
“It is clear that this matter has had a tremendous emotional impact on this young woman for circumstances for which she cannot be held responsible,” Joyce wrote. “Even though the age difference was only six years, she was the child and Mr. Lowney was the adult.”
New mandatory minimum sentencing provisions meant Lowney faced at least one year, and up to 10 years in jail, for each count of sexual interference.
He was spared a harsher sentence as he did not engage in “grooming or predatory conduct,” according to Joyce, even though, as the judge wrote, “He took advantage of young women when he knew he ought not to.”
As for mitigating factors, Joyce pointed to Lowney’s lack of a criminal record, his guilty plea and his supportive family.
“I believe Mr. Lowney appreciates the harm of his actions towards the two young victims and he is remorseful,” Joyce wrote.
With the drug and breach charges, the three consecutive sentences meant Joyce handed Lowney a global sentence of 20 months minus 20 days of credit for time served.
Lowney’s Facebook page, where he has nearly 2,000 friends, is rife with marijuana memes and rap culture. In the weeks leading up to his sentencing he made frequent posts, some of which appear to be rap lyrics.
“[F]–kin snitches, they got me crossed by my own side,” was posted on May 28.
The last post on June 9, eight days before his sentencing hearing: “[Y]ou see me tryina hide hopin that nobody gon notice, but you must always remember im still a member of the hopeless [sic].”
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