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St. John's man accused of ordering child sex doll found not guilty

St. John’s defence lawyer Bob Buckingham (right) speaks to reporters outside provincial court this morning as his client, Kenneth Harrison looks on. Harrison, suspected of ordering a child sexual doll, was acquitted of all charges.
St. John’s defence lawyer Bob Buckingham (right) speaks to reporters outside provincial court this morning as his client, Kenneth Harrison looks on. Harrison, suspected of ordering a child sexual doll, was acquitted of all charges. - Rosie Mullaley

Judge concludes there isn't enough evidence to rebut Kenneth Harrisson's claim that he ordered an adult doll

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Warning: Graphic content in this story might disturb some readers.

It was the first of its kind in Canada and, in the end, the case of a St. John's man suspected of ordering a child sex doll in the mail from Japan ended in an acquittal.
In a decision at provincial court Thursday that came six years after police arrested Kenneth Harrisson, the 52-year-old was found not guilty of all counts — possessing child pornography and mailing obscene matter, and, under the federal Customs Act, smuggling and possessing prohibited goods.
Harrisson initially showed no reaction to Judge Mark's Pike verdict, but at the end of proceedings a few minutes later, he smiled and shook hands with his lawyer, Bob Buckingham.
In the hallway outside provincial court, Harrisson stood next to Buckingham, opting to let the defence lawyer speak on his behalf.
"He's relieved that this matter has been resolved and concluded in his favour," Buckingham told reporters. "He wants to get on with the rest of his life. … This has been quite stressful on him. … This has been a long, drawn-out battle."
Buckingham added, "His advice to people is be careful what you order online."
Harrisson was arrested in March 2013, when a box containing what police and experts said was a child sex doll was delivered to his home. He was released from custody after his first court appearance and has been on conditions since then.
Over the years, the case was riddled with delays for reasons that included long waits for witness availability, along with months of arguing pre-trial and mid-trial applications, and wrangling to resolve other legal issues, including charter violation claims.
During the trial, Harrisson admitted he had ordered a $1,000 doll through the online site Hariumi Designs, but insisted it was an adult female doll — the Carol doll deluxe kit, which came with makeup and pubic hair.
Harrisson — who collapsed at one point while being cross-examined earlier this month — told the court he wanted the doll for companionship because he was feeling the loss of his infant son, who died at the age of five months in 1986. He said he wanted a doll to represent his son at the age he would be now and insisted it wasn't for a sexual purpose.
Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Peter Collins had testified the doll that was delivered to Harrisson's house on March 2013 depicted a child. He said he believed Harrisson had "an erotic attraction to prepubescent children" and had the doll for a sexual purpose, which would meet the criteria of child pornography.
But Harrisson — who didn't see the contents of the box, as he was arrested after accepting the delivery — said the doll that police said was inside wasn't the one he ordered.
Buckingham told reporters Collins' evidence was "pseudoscience" and "he made it up as he went along on the witness stand."
While he was glad with the final verdict, Buckingham said he was disappointed that Pike failed to provide any reasoning as to why he came to the decision he did.
"So, there's no direction with respect to this. … He didn't walk us through it and explain what test he applied," Buckingham said. "It was a 30-second decision. … This decision provides no assistance to further decisions down the road."
In rendering his decision, the judge said he accepted Collins' evidence that the doll that was delivered to Harrisson's house was a child sex doll. However, Pike said there was a lack of evidence to disprove Harrisson's claim that the doll wasn't the one he ordered.
"It's not who to believe, but whether there's reasonable doubt. Even if I don't believe the accused, I must consider the evidence as a whole," he said.
"One would think (Harrisson) would return it (if it wasn't the one he ordered), but he didn't get a chance due to the (arrest after the police-control delivery) before getting the opportunity to open it."
Pike said there wasn't any evidence presented at trial to show which website Harrisson had visited, noting Harrisson had agreed to have police check his computer, but that it wasn't done.
"There is reason to doubt his guilt," Pike said. "The Crown has failed to prove their case."
After speaking with reporters following proceedings, Buckingham was confronted by a woman, who claimed to be a "survivor" and advocate for children's rights. The woman — who said she travelled from Mississauga, Ont., to attend the court case — accused Buckingham of being "a pedophile sympathizer" with an agenda.
Buckingham was initially angry, asking her, "Are you an asshole?" and told her that he was insulted by her accusations.
The exchange got heated before Buckingham calmly invited her to sit down with him so he could explain the law to her. When she continued to hurl accusations at him, Buckingham, his colleagues and Harrisson walked away.

rosie.mullaley@thetelegram.com
Twitter: TelyRosie


Earlier story

Not guilty verdict in St. John’s child sex doll trial

Kenneth Harrisson was found not guilty of all charges in provincial court Thursday morning.

Harrisson was charged with possessing child pornography and mailing obscene material as well as two charges under the federal Customs Act relating to smuggling and possessing prohibited goods in 2017. 

He insisted he didn’t purchase the doll with the intent of having intercourse with it, but to serve as a replacement for an infant son that died many years before. His son would have been 25 years old at the time Harrison purchased the doll in 2013.

At the time of his arrest, Harrisson told police it was a "love doll.”

The Crown had argued that Harrison knew he was ordering a child sex doll.

Outside the courtroom, defence lawyer Bob Buckingham told reporters, "Be careful what you order online."

Also outside the courtroom following proceedings, Buckingham was confronted in the hallway by a woman who claims to be an advocate for child rights. The woman, who said she made the trip from Mississauga, Ont., called herself a survivor. During the exchange, she suggested that Harrisson got away with the crime, that the laws in Canada don't protect children and that Buckingham himself supports pedophiles.

The exchange between the two got heated at times, with Buckingham at one point asking the woman, "Are you an asshole?" He told her that she has no idea what she's talking about and the exchange ended with him offering to sit down and explain the law to her. The woman continued to shout accusations at Buckingham as he walked away.

The trial is believed to be the first in the country that deals with child pornography charges involving a sex doll.


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