— Photo by Rosie Mullaley/The Telegram
A teenage girl feared for her friend’s safety so much after reading Facebook messages from Kevin Kelly, she took matters into her own hands.
During the opening day of the former St. John’s journalist’s trial at provincial court Monday, the girl testified that after her friend had showed her some comments from Kelly, she later went home and accessed her friend’s Facebook account — having remembered the password her friend had shared with her — and took screen shots of all their conversations.
“He was saying inappropriate things,” the girl said.
“We thought it was a joke at first, but it was weird and it made us uncomfortable.”
The girl said she felt compelled to do something.
“I worried for (her) safety … in case it escalated,” she said.
Kelly, 42 — a former senior editor with the Newfoundland Herald —has pleaded not guilty to a single count of child luring. He’s not in custody.
Police say he sent the girl inappropriate messages over a five-week period in December 2011 and January 2012.
The contents of the messages have not been revealed yet, but the girl’s friend said after she read them, it was clear that Kelly recognized how young her friend was. She said he told her where he worked, “which is why (she) found it so easy to trust him,” and that he did some work for a local modelling agency. He said he could help her with modelling opportunities.
She told the court that she showed her parents the screen shots of the conversations before telling her friend she had accessed her account. She said she didn’t tell her friend at first because she thought she would delete them.
“I knew if she deleted it, all content would be gone and there would no way to get it back,” she said.
She said her friend didn’t tell her parents about Kelly’s comments because “she felt it was an awkward situation. It’s hard to tell your parents due to the contents.”
In all, she took 93 screen shots of the conversations between her friend and Kelly.
Less than a week later, the police became involved.
The girls decided it was time to tell a teacher at their school. The teacher, in turn, called the teen’s parents.
It all came as a shock to the girl’s mother, who also took the stand.
She testified that when Kelly first contacted her daughter to offer her an opportunity at modelling for a local agency, her daughter showed her their Facebook conversations.
She said she had Googled Kelly’s name and saw that he had a lot of connections.
As part of his job, Kelly often wrote about the province’s arts and entertainment scene. A number of times, Kelly also sat as a judge for the Miss Teen pageant.
“I figured that’s what he did — that he saw something in her and could help her,” said the woman, whose daughter had dabbled in modelling in the past.
The woman said she and her husband even called Kelly and met with him to discuss the modelling agency.
But she admitted she had no idea the conversations between her daughter and Kelly continued.
“This is where I feel like the worst mother in the world,” the woman said. “I didn’t monitor (her Facebook account) as I should have.”
The father of the teen’s friend also testified he read the conversations after his daughter showed him the screen shots she took.
“There was some pretty heavy stuff there,” he said.
The teen who was chatting on Facebook with Kelly is expected to take the stand today when the trial continues. The trial is scheduled for three days.