In a recent ruling by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Michael Mikhail, a Hamilton man found guilty of surreptitiously filming women working out in public and subsequently uploading the content to Pornhub, has been sentenced to 15 months behind bars. The sentence, handed down by Justice J.P.P. Fiorucci, comes after Mikhail had already spent five months in custody while awaiting his sentencing. In addition to the prison term, Mikhail will be placed on probation for two years, during which he is prohibited from contacting any of the victims, visiting the gym in question, or accessing Pornhub.com. Moreover, he has been directed to attend a rehabilitative program as part of his probation.
The offenses, which took place between 2016 and 2020 in Hamilton, led to Mikhail’s arrest by Hamilton police officers in March 2020 following multiple complaints from a gym on Queenston Road.
Mikhail initially pleaded guilty to three counts of surreptitiously making visual recordings of individuals for a sexual purpose, with these offenses involving three different female victims who were all unknown to him. He also entered a guilty plea for knowingly distributing an intimate image of a former intimate partner without her consent.
One of the victims, identified only as L.G. in court documents, had numerous videos and photos taken of her without her consent, many of which were of her in a state of undress or in the bathroom. Much of this content was then uploaded to Pornhub.com. The three other victims associated with Mikhail’s guilty pleas were all filmed at a gym in Hamilton.
In one instance, Mikhail was found to have filmed a woman’s buttocks while she used a weightlifting machine without her knowledge. In another, he filmed an underage girl’s breasts, uploading the video with a title referencing her age. In the last incident, a woman discovered videos of herself and another individual filmed at the gym, which were uploaded to Pornhub by Mikhail.
During the proceedings, Mikhail admitted to facts concerning five additional victims, according to court records. He told a psychologist, who assessed him, that he was unaware that filming individuals without their consent and uploading the content online was illegal. He also expressed difficulty in understanding the motivation behind his actions.
When determining the sentence, Justice Fiorucci considered Mikhail’s lack of a prior criminal record, his efforts to address certain mental health concerns, and his expressions of remorse for the crimes committed. However, the judge emphasized the seriousness of such offenses, particularly those involving digital devices and the violation of others’ sexual integrity.
“Offenders who use their cell phones and digital devices as weapons to violate the sexual integrity of others should expect to receive a custodial sentence,” the judge stated. “I have considered the principle of restraint, the fact that Mr. Mikhail comes before me as a first offender, having entered guilty pleas, and the fact that he has a stable background and favorable prospects of rehabilitation.”
In light of this, Justice Fiorucci imposed a total of 15 months of jail time, with five consecutive months for each offense. Mikhail was informed of the sentencing reasons during an October 4 hearing.