This is Sophia Sadoughi, one of five women who uncovered that a Toronto comedy writer and photographer — well-known in the city's arts scene — was sharing photos and social media account information about his female acquaintances on 4chan.
It started with a post on 4chan, dated March 14, that included Sadoughi's Snapchat username along with that of four others. "Here are some sure wins," the post read. "Start with a chat, not dick."
That led them to Ren Bostelaar, a Toronto man known for being one of the people behind the popular parody Twitter account @stats_canada.
Sadoughi said she has known Bostelaar for several years after meeting via Twitter, and they have many friends in common.
"It didn't take long before I realized Ren was the sole link between the five of us," said Sadoughi. "Four of us were all located in Toronto as well, which raised even more suspicion."
They decided to confront Bostelaar in a Facebook group chat. Sadoughi provided screenshots of the conversation (names and images that are not attributed to Bostelaar or Sadoughi have been censored).
Sadoughi said Bostelaar initially denied involvement, but after she revealed suspicions to more mutual friends, she heard more stories of "photos and personal information" posted on 4chan.
She confronted him again, saying, "Are you ready to own up to this and apologize yet?"
"Yes," he replied. "What I did was completely unfair and gross. And to you and every other woman who I've breached the trust of I apologize. It's disgusting and I have no excuses, and I will pay whatever price I have to pay for my behaviour. I'm sorry."
He continued, saying he is "sick and the thought of getting caught excited me."
Bostelaar's social accounts have since been made private or deleted. But screenshots were taken of his initial, public apology on Facebook.
In the post, Bostelaar said he participated in threads on 4chan's /b/ forum "that have included photos of women and their names."
A subsequent post from Bostelaar's Facebook account said, "I did not share any images that were sent to me without consent, I didn’t post photos from any photoshoot without the subjects’ consent, but I *did* re-post images that were available on other sites."
Sam Goldstein, Bostelaar's lawyer, told BuzzFeed Canada his client is "deeply remorseful for his actions," but denied Bostelaar doxxed any of the women.
"The images that he posted of the women were taken from images that they themselves had posted to public forums, so therefore he did not disseminate or distribute the private details of these women with malicious intent," said Goldstein. He would not directly comment as to whether some of those images were posted in private Facebook groups.
"The internet, people have to understand when you post things on the internet, it’s public."
The Toronto Star, however, spoke to a woman who previously dated Bostelaar, identified as Rian, who said nude photos she'd sent him appeared on 4chan last year.
According to the Star, the posts "included her full name, area code and photos of the nude pictures next to identifiable pictures of her."
Canadaland also reported that screenshots, which BuzzFeed Canada has seen, show "a user that was apparently Bostelaar" posting nude photos in 2005. The images were “salvaged from [a] friend’s memory card," according to the post.
Sadoughi said that since news of Bostelaar's actions broke, she's heard from nearly 30 women who suspect they've been "victimized by Ren over the years in some way."
Toronto Police spokesperson Const. Jenifferjit Sidhu confirmed to BuzzFeed Canada that a criminal harassment complaint was filed against Bostelaar on Sunday, and "an investigation is in progress."
Under section 162.1 of Canada's Criminal Code, it is illegal to knowingly distribute an "intimate image" of a person "knowing that the person depicted in the image did not give their consent to that conduct, or being reckless as to whether or not that person gave their consent to that conduct." Those convicted can face up to five years in prison. Bostelaar is not currently facing any charges.
According to the Canadian Press, the complaint was filed by a woman who said she had private, nude photos of herself published online without her consent.
Bostelaar's lawyer said his client is "open to meeting with the women that he has affected and personally apologizing to them," but that a police investigation would "obviously complicate it."
Bostelaar's colleagues at @Stats_Canada posted a statement on social media Sunday saying they are "shocked and deeply concerned" about his actions.
"This kind of behaviour is completely inexcusable and does not reflect the values of Stats Canada. Our thoughts are with anyone this may have affected."
Stats Canada released a book in 2013, with another due out in June. Bostelaar's lawyer said on AM640's Morning Show that his client is "removing his name from that publication."
Lauren Strapagiel is Managing Editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto, Canada.
Contact Lauren Strapagiel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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