A teenager admitted on the stand Wednesday she had claimed to be an adult on her Facebook profile page when she chatted with Kevin Kelly.
During cross-examination on Day 3 of the former journalist’s trial at provincial court in St. John’s, Kelly’s lawyer confronted the girl about the falsified information.
Mike King pointed out that she listed — and still did list as recently as last week — her date of birth on her profile page as 1988, which would have made her 23 at the time she and Kelly messaged each other.
She was actually 14.
King added that her profile also notes she’s a student at Memorial University, when she is, in fact, entering Grade 12 in the fall.
The girl said she entered a fake birth date when she created her Facebook profile — while she was in Grade 6 — because she wasn’t old enough at the time to have a Facebook account, and hasn’t changed it since because she never thought about it again.
Kelly — a former editor with the Newfoundland Herald — is accused of sending the girl inappropriate messages through Facebook between December 2011 and January 2012.
He’s pleaded not guilty to a charge of luring a child under the age of 16 by means of a computer.
The girl told the court Tuesday when Kelly first messaged her on Facebook, he appeared to be interested in helping her pursue a modelling career and provided good advice, but then asked her personal and sexual questions about her measurements and her sex life.
But King continued to attack the girl’s credibility.
Besides listing a false age, he questioned the girl’s honesty on topics such as her co-operation with police and whether she felt uncomfortable or threatened by Kelly.
She reiterated that when the questions became personal, she became uncomfortable.
“You didn’t stop talking to him, though. You kept talking to him,” said King, pointing to a message from Kelly to the girl in which Kelly suggested they stop communicating. In it, Kelly called the teen his “dream girl,” but said he loved his girlfriend of 22 years — to which the girl responded, “But can’t we still be friends?” and “I’m not scared of you or anything.”
Friends found it funny
The girl told King she found the chats with Kelly to be interesting, and that her friends — with whom she shared the Facebook conversations — found it funny.
King repeatedly asked the girl if she altered the content of their Facebook conversations. She repeatedly said she didn’t.
He questioned if the girl actually told Kelly she was 14.
In previous testimony, the girl said she told Kelly her real age and that he said he was 38. Her friend — who took screen shots of the conversations — also testified that the girl did tell Kelly during one of their chats that she was 14.
King also asked why the girl deleted all her conversations with Kelly from Facebook after her parents learned about the messages and called the police.
“I didn’t want to feel responsible for ruining someone’s life,” she said. “I just felt pressured.”
King asked her if she really deleted them because she was worried she would get in trouble, which caused her to laugh.
“No, I knew I wasn’t going to get in trouble,” she replied.
Meanwhile, Kelly’s former girlfriend testified that she wasn’t aware of any of Kelly’s Facebook activities, but said she didn’t monitor his account.
She admitted their sex life at the time was “probably non-existent.”
Former Newfoundland Herald managing editor Mark Dwyer took the stand and told the court of Kelly’s duties while he worked there.
He said Kelly focused mostly on arts and entertainment stories and, as a result, attended many local events, including fashion shows.
“Other (Herald) reporters covered fashion shows,” said Dwyer, who is now news director at NTV, “but Kevin seemed to have more of an interest in them than anybody else did.”
Kelly — who entered the courtroom Wednesday on crutches after injuring his knee the day before when he was struck by a car — reportedly contacted the teen after seeing her in a fashion show.
Dwyer will be back on the stand July 16, when the trial continues.
(This is an edited version)