A man charged with criminal harassment over his dealings with two Toronto women’s rights activists on Twitter has been found not guilty.
Gregory Alan Elliott was accused of criminally harassing Stephanie Guthrie and Heather Reilly over several months in 2012.
There were rumblings in the courtroom as the Ontario Court Judge Brent Knazan read his decision. Supporters for both sides filled the benches, some even sitting on the floor.
In his tweets, Elliott was largely explaining himself and furthering his views “however offensive or wrong they may be,” the judge said, while recognizing the language could be “vulgar and sometimes obscene.”
The two activists testified at the trial that they believe Elliot kept tabs on them and their whereabouts through social media, even after they blocked his account.
Elliott’s lawyer Chris Murphy instead characterized the Twitter interactions – which escalated and saw both sides trade barbs – as “an ugly political debate.”
Murphy said his client never threatened or made sexual comments at the women.
Observers said it is believed to be the first criminal harassment case in Canada involving Twitter.