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Man who named sexual offence victim on social media sentenced

A man who breached the anonymity of a sexual offence victim by revealing her identity on social media has been sentenced.

John Gerard Harmon, of Pennard Road, west London (W12), appeared at City of London Magistrates' Court on Tuesday (24 April 2018) where he was made subject to a 12-month community order for his actions. 

Harmon, 59, wrote about details of the woman’s case, relating to an offence several years ago, in a comment on her employer’s Facebook page, between 5 and 6 December 2017.

Under the terms of the Sexual Offences Act 1992, it is illegal for anyone to publish any information which is likely to lead to the identification of a victim or alleged victim of a sexual offence – a ruling which covers social media.

The City of London Police was notified by the employer, and officers quickly identified and located Harmon through the Facebook account he had used.

Officers seized three mobile phones and a laptop from Harmon’s house. Upon interview, Harmon read a short prepared statement and declined to answer any questions.

Detective Constable Rebecca Pigott of the City of London Police Public Protection Unit (PPU), led the investigation. 

She said: “This was a horrible ordeal for this victim who had details of her experience unfairly aired on social media, without her consent.

“The law on this matter is very clear and everyone needs to be well aware that identifying sexual offence victims on social media, in any form, is not just unacceptable – it is illegal.

“The City of London Police Public Protection Unit (PPU) is dedicated to supporting and protecting victims of sexual offences, and their anonymity, with our specially-trained team of staff and officers. We would encourage anyone who has experienced something similar to get in touch.” 

Harmon, who pleaded guilty to one count of identifying a victim of a sexual offence on social media, and an additional charge of harassment, was also handed a restraining order banning him from contacting the victim, ordered to serve a 60-day alcohol ban, electronically tagged, and a 10-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

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