A Riverview basketball coach was sentenced to nine years in prison on Friday for secretly filming young players in washrooms and locker rooms and then posting footage online as he sought help in tackling to children. Shawn Curtis Nickerson of Riverview pleaded guilty to 32 counts, including the production of child pornography, voyeurism, and possession and access to child pornography. He also pleaded guilty to a charge of sexual touching a person under the age of 16.
There were 21 victims identified in his tapes, while others were unidentified. Nickerson also had what crown prosecutors described as a collection of videos and images made by others.
“These victims and their families were betrayed by a man they trusted and respected as a coach,” Moncton Provincial Court said before Justice Paul Duffie.
The judge accepted the jail term recommended jointly by Crown prosecutors and Nickerson’s defense attorney.
He said the Crown had shown there was planning in Nickerson’s actions and progression in his crimes by seeking to become more involved with victims.
A mother, who cannot be named due to a court-ordered publication ban on the identity of the victims, said families were relieved.
“We’re glad he got caught when he did,” the mother said.
A wide impact
Crown Attorney Karen Lee said the case was different from others because of the number of victims involved.
“So I think the impact on the community is much bigger than what we’ve seen often,” Lee told reporters after Nickerson’s conviction.
“Victimization, when it gets so broad, is felt all over the community. “
Crown Attorney Malika Levesque presented 13 victim impact statements to the judge and four statements from organizations affected by Nickerson’s actions. Levesque said several victims did not make statements because they did not want Nickerson to have access to their words and thoughts.
She said that for many it took a toll on their time playing basketball.
“It is only a shadow over their experiences that must be remembered fondly. “
A statement, from a school attended by children and coached by Nickerson, said students and staff no longer felt safe and many were angry over broken trust.
“The coaches at the school who have worked closely with Shawn Nickerson have a deep sense of guilt that maybe they missed something and that he was allowed to interact with our students,” says the one of the statements.
The sentencing hearing began Friday morning with Crown Attorney Malika Levesque reading an agreed statement of facts to the judge.
More than two dozen people sat in the public gallery during the sentencing hearing. Some sobbed, others held their heads in their hands and stared at the ground as the Crown described Nickerson’s crimes.
Nickerson used three small cameras to record children between the ages of 12 and 16 in hotel bathrooms, gym locker rooms, and his own home when the kids came to visit.
The investigation began in January 2020, when the RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Crime Center was informed by the UK’s National Crime Agency that someone was posting child pornography on the dark web.
The dark web is part of the Internet which is more difficult to access. By using various technologies, users can hide their true identity online, making them harder to find.
However, Levesque said at one point that the person posting about being a coach did not use a system to hide his identity and IP address from Riverview.
“Mr. Nickerson made a mistake,” Lee told reporters. “And that’s how we got caught. “
She said there was a global effort involving multiple police forces to find him.
The RCMP used open source information, which may include things like public social media accounts, to determine the poster was Nickerson.
A search of his home in October 2020 led police to find three “spy” cameras and various electronic devices containing child pornography that he had created or obtained.
The judge learned that Nickerson’s electronics had dozens of videos he had made himself from 2016. He shut down in March 2020 because the pandemic had caused many activities such as schools and sports.
Nickerson was arrested when his house was searched and admitted to police that the people on the tapes were basketball players he was training.
Among the testimony provided to the judge by the prosecution were over 200 pages of dark web posts from Nickerson asking for help using spy cameras, describing his victims in detail, seeking advice on how to attract children and how to deal with it. parents.
Levesque called his behavior insidious.
He posted hoping there would be more happening with the kids than just mentoring them, saying he had a good relationship with their parents who let the kids come to his house.
He was trying to give them water to use the toilet where he would have installed a camera to record them.
In an article she read, Nickerson asked other forum users how to recover a file from a memory card he accidentally deleted, saying he had a “good day” with a spy camera.
In some articles, she has described Nickerson’s joy in recording children and how he is upset when nothing happens.
“I thought I would have it tonight for sure,” Nickerson wrote in a post the Crown read, adding that the child would come back several times the following week.
Nickerson also admitted to sexually assaulting someone between the ages of seven and eight. The crime occurred between December 25, 2018 and June 2019.
The Crown said the child was aware of this delay because the pajamas he was wearing were a Christmas present.
During the sentencing hearing, Nickerson sat in the prisoner’s box dressed in orange prison-issued clothing, looking primarily at the ground.
Offered the chance to speak by the judge, Nickerson expressed remorse for his actions which caused disappointment and grief.
“You all deserved better from me,” he said, crying. “I destroyed everything I had in life and in doing so, I lost so many people who meant so much to me.
Nickerson’s lawyer Abel Le Bouthillier said his client pleaded guilty to avoid a trial that would further harm the children.
Prohibition on visiting various places, using the Internet
A publication ban prevents reporting anything that would identify victims.
The judge ordered Nickerson to stay away from places like schools, public parks or playgrounds where people under the age of 16 are likely to congregate for life. She forbids him to be less than two kilometers from the houses where the victims live.
The ordinance prohibits him from any work or voluntary work which would put him in a position of trust. He is also prohibited from any contact with any person under the age of 16 without supervision.
The ordinance also prohibits him from using the Internet.