Two 18-year-old men face charges in Nova Scotia in the case of Rehtaeh Parsons, the girl who took her own life after she was bullied online. One man was charged with two counts of distributing child pornography, and the other was charged with making and distributing child pornography. Police stated the evidence did not support sexual assault charges against the two. The two men are due in youth court on August 15th. They cannot be identified because they were minors at the time of the alleged offenses.
Police arrested the pair at 8 a.m. at at their respective homes following an investigation by the RCMP/Halifax Regional Police Criminal Investigation Division. According to Leah Parsons, Rehtaeh’s mother, four boys sexually assaulted her daughter when she was 15. The young teen was then said to have been mocked by classmates, enduring relentless harassment and humiliation after a photo of the attack was circulated at school and on social media.
On April 7th, Rehtaeh was taken off life-support after attempting to take her own life a few days earlier. Halifax police and RCMP decided to reopen her case in mid-April after her death, saying that new and credible information had been brought forward.
The arrests come one day after the implementation of new, more strict legislation against cyber-bullying in Nova Scotia. The new legislation gives victims the ability to sue alleged cyberbullies or their parents, if those accused are minors.”We hope that the new cyberbullying legislation and the charges laid today will send a strong message that this behaviour will not be tolerated,” said Halifax police Chief Jean-Michel Blais.
Police said they had never interviewed any of the four accused before Thursday. They said one of the boys came to the station once, but didn’t offer any information.The initial investigation, concluded in November 2012, is going to be reviewed.”We will co-operate fully in the review of this investigation,” Blais said. “It is only through looking at ourselves, and how we do things, that we can improve and better serve our community.”
After the arrest, Rehtaeh’s mother stated, “I felt a little bit of relief, just to say, finally — like I hope — they keep saying they want to tell their side of the story, but they have never given a statement. The police have never spoken to them in all this time. So at least, here is your chance. Tell your side of the story”. Rehtaeh’s father, Glen Canning, said the news is bittersweet. He said, “After everything we’ve been through, you’re almost in a place where you’re not expecting anything at all and then all of a sudden it’s here. To hear those words, ‘We’ve made two arrests,’ I felt like crying, I felt like running. At the same time you feel sad because my daughter is never going to know that sense of justice. She’ll never know that. I will be able to say the right people cared enough to make changes. I will be able to say that people were held accountable for their actions. I will be able to say this is closed, but I will never be able to say justice was served in this case because it simply was not and it’s not something you can undo. She’s gone. My daughter is gone. She waited such a long time to hear that phone call I got today and it just came way too late for her.”
What do you think the proper punishment should be for cyberbullying? Should legislatures make it a crime all on its own? Should the men be charged with murder, considering their actions led to her death? Should the students that mocked her be charged? Should the men be charged as minors or adults?
Article and Picture Source: CBCNEWS