Victims of a poster campaign tarnishing their reputation will have to wait at least another eight weeks to see justice for the man who created them.
Peter Guttormsson pled guilty to two counts of publishing defamatory libel known to be false and was to be sentenced on Monday in Penticton court. Instead, Judge Ellen Burdett granted an application made by Guttormsson’s lawyer Jim Pennington to order a psychiatric evaluation be conducted. Pennington said upon speaking with Guttormsson, he saw there is “rather disturbing underlying issues.”
Guttormsson was arrested on Aug. 20 for publishing posters that pictured two local businessmen in an unflattering way. RCMP retained video footage that showed a male putting up a poster in the late hours of Jan. 27, 2010. One of the targeted men, who initially did not want his name released by police, provided a copy of his victim’s impact statement to the Penticton Western News which shows how Guttormsson’s acts had a significant impact on his life.
“I am the victim of a malicious and mindless attack on my character, my reputation and my dignity,” Gary Denton wrote. “My reputation has been damaged, the extent to which I will never be sure. This was a systematic attempt to assassinate my character by someone that I do not know, that I have never met. I cannot think of a greater insult to be cast against anyone.”
Posters of Denton carried the disturbing message convicted sex offender and child molesting rapist, wanted by police. Denton said in his statement that over six weeks he received approximately 150 phone calls from friends, acquaintances and some from individuals he did not know alerting him of new locations where the posters had been placed. He said they were glued to mail boxes, lampposts, storefronts, gas pumps and even placed in public washrooms.
“This was a very difficult time for me. At first, I hoped it would just stop. However, it didn’t and I received more and more reports of new posters going up around town. After a week, I reported it to the RCMP. After three weeks, I was in tears,” wrote Denton. “I began to worry about what the poster boy might do next and I felt like I had to explain to anyone that looked at me that there was no truth to these posters, that I wasn’t some pervert.”
Coun. Mike Pearce was also a victim of Guttormsson’s poster campaign. Pearce appeared in posters that showed him with a photo-shopped moustache that mimics the kind worn by former German dictator Adolf Hitler. A slogan reading ‘Vote for Mike Pearce Nazi Party,’ ran below the doctored image that appeared throughout downtown Penticton.