Update: Harper hopes arrests comfort family

The Canadian Press
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Rehtaeh Parsons. — CP file photo

Saint John, N.B. — The prime minister says he hopes arrests made in the case of Rehtaeh Parsons provide a measure of comfort to the teenage girl’s family.

Stephen Harper says he was pleased to hear that progress is being made in the case of the 17-year-old Halifax girl, who died this year following a suicide attempt in what her family says stemmed from cyberbullying after an alleged sexual assault.

Speaking in Saint John where he was touring the Irving Oil refinery, Harper said Rehtaeh’s death was a terrible tragedy that touched people across Canada.

The RCMP and Halifax police arrested two males at their homes in Halifax at around 8 a.m. today and took them into custody where they are being questioned.

The Mounties did not release further information on the males arrested, including their ages and what they were arrested for.

Rehtaeh’s mother, Leah Parsons, says she is hopeful the arrests lead to charges.

 

•••

Halifax (CP) — The mother of Rehtaeh Parsons said she has some solace after hearing that two people were arrested Thursday in the case of her daughter, the 17-year-old Halifax girl who died following a suicide attempt in what her family says stemmed from cyberbullying after an alleged sexual assault.

“We’re just hopeful there’s charges laid and others to arrest, hoping that they’re finally willing to tell their side of the story,” Leah Parsons said in an interview.

“A sense of relief came over me that at least they’re going to be questioned.”

The RCMP and Halifax police said they arrested two males at their homes in Halifax at around 8 a.m. and took them into custody where they were being questioned. The Mounties did not release further information on the males arrested, including their ages and what they were arrested for.

“Due to the sensitive nature around this investigation, the investigators do want to ensure that no court process is affected, that there is going to be some privacy concerns around identity, ages and that,” said RCMP Cpl. Scott MacRae.

“The investigators have been working on this for the past several months directly in relation to the Rehtaeh Parsons’ investigation. Their job was to look at everything and to proceed with an investigation and here we are today with the arrest of two males at their respective residences and we’ll basically see how today goes. We have a 24-hour window to either release or lay charges.”

Rehtaeh was taken off life-support in April after she attempted suicide in her home. Her family says she was tormented for months after a digital photo of her allegedly being sexually assaulted in November 2011 was passed around her school.

“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. “I’m just glad that it was reopened and I’m really happy that they have two people to question.”

The RCMP said earlier this year that they looked into the allegations of sexual assault and an inappropriate photo but after consulting with 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.

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 arrests 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.

 

•••

HALIFAX — Two males were arrested Thursday in the case of Rehtaeh Parsons, the 17-year-old Halifax girl who died following a suicide attempt in what her family says stemmed from months of online bullying after an alleged sexual assault.

The RCMP and Halifax police said Thursday they arrested two males at their homes in Halifax at around 8 a.m. and took them into custody where they were being questioned. The Mounties did not release further information on the males arrested, including what they were arrested for.

Rehtaeh was taken off life-support in April after she attempted suicide in her home. Her family says she was bullied for months after a digital photo of her allegedly being sexually assaulted in November 2011 was passed around her school.

“We’re just hopeful that ... there’s charges laid,” Leah Parsons, Rehtaeh’s mother, said in an interview.

“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. I’m just glad that it was reopened and I’m really happy that they have two people to question.”

The RCMP said earlier this year that they looked into the allegations of sexual assault and an inappropriate photo but concluded there were no grounds to lay charges. They later reopened their investigation, saying they received new information.

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

 

 

Organizations: RCMP, Halifax Regional School Board

Geographic location: Halifax, Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • Laid Back Larry
    August 08, 2013 - 18:00

    More fodder for the Harper/Toews lock 'em up agenda and the baying mob! I hope these fellers get good lawyers and fight these made-up charges with great vigour. The cops are as usual just covering their posteriors to satisfy the public. At most this is a civil liability case and should stay in civil court.

  • Char
    August 08, 2013 - 16:29

    Anna, you have obviously never had to bury a child. I hope you are still young enough to gain some much needed wisdom, of which you are clearly lacking. And Jim Rogers, you need some of the same. It is simply unjustified and mean to criticize and put the Newfoundland people (or ANY people in general) in such a category. That was quite a juvenile statement. I am trusting you are an adolescent, in which case you may be forgiven... somewhat.

  • Anna's heartless comments
    August 08, 2013 - 13:37

    I'm not impressed with Anna's heartless comments. You have no right to blame her parents here!!!! It started out with a bunch of teenagers having a few sociable drinks, however it was the "boys"who got her that intoxicated that they decided to not only rape her but also tape her too, while she was that drunk she couldn't even see straight!!!! The boys should have had the common sense to let her be & just bring her home how dare they take it upon themselves to do that to another human being is beyond frightening to me. It was the "school kids" that continuously harassed her about it. Blame the boys, the school, etc.. but I don't see how you can blame the parents!!!!

  • doug
    August 08, 2013 - 13:20

    No harper, justice would comfort this family.............

  • your name here
    August 08, 2013 - 12:56

    while this whole thread of events is tragic and I can't even imagine the pain the family is enduring I have to question the motives here... The schoolboard could have managed the situation but dropped the ball..? The RCMP stated there was no grounds for charges yet re-opened it...?... and Stephen Harper is in Saint.John touring an Iring refinery saying' it's a shame.. we better do something about it.'..?... the whole situation reaks of influence peddling and a large campaign scheme... yes... get off yer asses and do something about it RCMP... yes... prosecute cyber bullying if there is evidence.. and there would be... yes parents take an interest on what's going on with your children..has anyone noticed besides myself that due to the decline in parental control as far as disipline is involved that a whole new horrible world of not being able to do anything with children to prevent this kind of thing has been introduced..?.. I know if it were my daughter.. and there was one hint of bullying... the school would be the first stop.. they would be read the riot act.. if it persisted.. there would be consequences for those folk... then it would be tracking down the perpetraitors of said bullying... it would stop... or someone would become an example of the wrath of a genuinely concerned parent... and it wouldn't be pretty...

  • Jim Rogers
    August 08, 2013 - 12:44

    They're not 'parents' they're parents. You're a fool if you think you can stop your children from ever drinking around strangers. They did turn to the mental health system as noted in the article. They had challenges there. Why do newfies have to whine about everything?

    • O'rly
      August 08, 2013 - 14:46

      Huh? Why bring Newfoundlanders in to this???

    • carogers
      August 08, 2013 - 19:21

      My prayers are with the family I hope they find some comfort soon....I believe in the policy of name and shame bullies. All "Newfies" do not whine about everything....one made a comment that was unkind. One, that was all. Why do "all" CFA lump everyone together as if we are all foolish, tarred with the one brush and hanging onto a fishing net?

  • AMAZED
    August 08, 2013 - 12:19

    Anna you should be ashamed of yourself. You don't have kids that is for sure. You should go get your head checked for writing this terrible comment. God bless those poor people and what they have been through. Shame on you for your comments you are no better than the boys who got away with this crime.

  • Steve
    August 08, 2013 - 10:12

    Cyber Bullies should not be protected. Name and shame these punks. These people need to learn there are permanent consequences of their actions.

    • kent
      August 08, 2013 - 11:43

      I agree!!

  • Anna
    August 08, 2013 - 09:48

    I find it interesting that these 'parents' are trying to blame everyone and every agency possible for the death of their daughter. It is shameful that she was attacked and recorded in the way she was and I am not condoning that behaviour. That being said - why were these 'parents' allowing their young teenage daughter to put herself into situations were she was drinking heavily around strangers? Also, after her previous attempts at suicide, why this young girl not provided with therapy or inpatient treatment to protect her wellbeing? This situation is filled with all kinds of mis-steps and most of those were done by the Parsons family. Don't blame everyone else for your daughters death when you failed to provide her with the skills to handle herself in potentially dangerous situations and the therapy she sorely needed.

    • Kent
      August 08, 2013 - 14:01

      @ Anna.... Your comments are sickening and disgusting and only enable the types of tormentors like the ones who preyed on this girl I am absolutely flabbergasted at your insensitivity toward these people.. This girl’s sexual assault was posted online.. She was humiliated and bullied... Even the most stable adults would have trouble coping with this kind of harassment, let alone a 15 year old girl. Lastly, and luckily, the law doesn't quite see things your way. God, I still can't believe you wrote that! How do you look at yourself in the mirror?

    • o'rly
      August 08, 2013 - 14:43

      @Anna, You are a discusting indavidul with a black heart. Hope you don't believe in Karma.

    • EMinsk
      August 08, 2013 - 18:04

      @Anna, the parents allowed her to be put in situations because they weren't controlling monsters who kill their kids for the slightest infractions like some of the other nutters you see on the news. Also, the fact that she was drinking in front of strangers does NOT give them permission to rape her you moron! This isn't the backwards justice system of Dubai. This is Canada, and it doesn't matter if she waved her kooch in front of their faces! If she didn't say 'go', they can't. This is not debated except in the minds of criminals. Is that what whoever's influencing you is?