Two teens charged in Rehtaeh Parsons case

HALIFAX — Police said Thursday that two Halifax teens face child pornography charges in the case of Rehtaeh Parsons, the 17-year-old Halifax girl who was taken off life-support following a suicide attempt in April.

HALIFAX — Police said Thursday that two Halifax teens face child pornography charges in the case of Rehtaeh Parsons, the 17-year-old Halifax girl who was taken off life-support following a suicide attempt in April.

Her family says she was bullied for months after a digital photo of her allegedly being sexually assaulted was passed around her school.

One 18-year-old man faces two counts of distributing child pornography, while another 18-year-old man faces charges of making and distributing child pornography. Both accused are due in youth court next Thursday, police said Thursday evening.

“I can tell you that we hope that today’s arrests help the entire community to heal,” RCMP Chief-Supt. Roland Wells told a news conference.

“A young girl has died in what is a tragic set of circumstances. We all need to reflect on how we as a community can come together in Rehtaeh’s memory and see what we can do to work together to support our youth.”

Police said they would not release the identities of the accused, as they were minors at the time of the alleged offences.

Earlier in the day, Rehtaeh’s parents said news that two people were arrested brought them some solace, though the girl’s father expressed disappointment that his daughter never saw justice served in her short life.

“She’s dead now. She’s gone,” Glen Canning said in an interview at his home.

“It’s sad and in a way it’s a bit of relief that there may be some sense of justice done in this case.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who earlier this year met with Leah Parsons, Rehtaeh’s mother, said he hoped that the girl’s family would be given a degree of comfort with the progress in the case.

“This is a terrible tragedy that had touched not only the families but many other Canadians who have become familiar with what has transpired and the kind of risk this presents to all of our children,” Harper said in Saint John, N.B., where he was at the Irving Oil refinery.

“I just want to say how pleased we are that progress is being made. I hope it provides some measure of comfort to family members.”

Rehtaeh’s family has said the girl felt helpless after a digital photo of her allegedly being sexually assaulted in November 2011 was passed around her school.

The RCMP said earlier this year that they looked into the allegations of sexual assault and an inappropriate photo but after consulting with the province’s Public Prosecution Service, they concluded there weren’t enough grounds to lay charges.

A week after Rehtaeh’s death, police reopened their investigation, saying they received new information from someone who was willing to work with investigators.

“I feel that the investigation wasn’t handled properly from the beginning and I’ve never seen the file, so I don’t really know why or how that happened,” Leah Parsons said earlier Thursday. “I’m just glad that it was reopened.”

Canning said he believes Rehtaeh could have been helped had the arrests happened sooner.

“She had no sense of justice right up until the day she died,” he said. “I do believe if this case was taken seriously, she would have felt value as a human being.”

The Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service said Thursday evening that Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General was asked to get involved in the case at the time it was reopened.

Spokeswoman Chris Hansen said because Nova Scotia’s prosecution service provided advice to police during the initial investigation, it asked Ontario Crown attorneys to take over to avoid any “real or perceived” conflict. Hansen said the Ontario ministry would now assume the prosecution of the two teens charged.

Brendan Crawley, a spokesman for the ministry, said in an email that it has been providing advice to police during their investigation, but would not comment further.

Rehtaeh’s death sparked national outrage and prompted the Nova Scotia government to launch reviews of the original police investigation into the case and the school board’s handling of the matter. The review of the original investigation is ongoing.

An independent review released in June concluded the Halifax Regional School Board could have done a better job, but it was hindered by the fact that Rehtaeh was often absent from class. The report also said the Parsons family faced challenges when they turned to Nova Scotia’s mental health system for help.

The charges come a day after a new law took effect in the province that allows people to sue if they or their children are being cyberbullied. Victims can also seek a protection order that could place restrictions on or help identify the cyberbully.

Justice Minister Ross Landry introduced the legislation weeks after Rehtaeh’s death.

Just Posted

Graffiti vandals strike Kerry Wood Nature Centre in Red Deer

Cleanup will be tricky at bird sanctuary

Red Deer housing market remains flat

Six per cent drop in sales in April 2019 compared to April 2018

Stamp collectors from across Alberta will gather in Red Deer Saturday

Local philatelist wants to restart the Red Deer stamp club

Alberta improv teams battle for crowd approval at Bull Skit Comedy fundraiser

Pies can be thrown Saturday, May 25, at Red Deer’s Scott Block Theatre

Beyond Meat burger not a threat for beef producers, say central Alberta ranchers

Referring to vegan or vegetarian alternative proteins as “meat” isn’t a concern,… Continue reading

Dogs and drugs don’t mix: Red Deer business wants to leave downtown after 18 years

One business owner is done with downtown Red Deer after 18 years.… Continue reading

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

WestJet pilot injured by green laser light while approaching Orlando airport

A WestJet pilot flying from Newfoundland to Orlando International Airport had his… Continue reading

Canada hires firm to ship back garbage, will be done before end of June: McKenna

OTTAWA — Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says the Canadian trash that has… Continue reading

Newfoundland man pleads not guilty in case of skeleton stolen from graveyard

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — A young Newfoundland man pleaded not guilty Wednesday… Continue reading

Canadians increasingly worried over boomers’ health bills, survey finds

CHARLOTTETOWN — Canadians are increasingly concerned about how to pay for the… Continue reading

Gonzalez helps power Twins to 8-3 victory over Angels

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Marwin Gonzalez keeps coming through for the Minnesota Twins.… Continue reading

Another athlete slams testosterone rules, refuses medication

NAIROBI, Kenya — Another Olympic medallist has criticized the IAAF’s testosterone regulations… Continue reading

Madonna perfects her off-key Eurovision act online

JERUSALEM — The Queen of Pop has cleaned up her act. After… Continue reading

Most Read