Rehtaeh Parsons Suicide: Justice Minister Revisiting Alleged Rape Case

PHOTO: Rehtaeh Parsons, a 15-year-old girl from Nova Scotia, Canada, died April 7, 2013 following a suicide attempt that was the result of being bullied after an alleged sexual assault.
Share
Copy

A Canadian minister of justice is seeking answers in the investigation into the alleged rape by four teenagers of Nova Scotian teen Rehtaeh Parsons, who hanged herself last week after what her mother says was months of bullying.

Rehtaeh Parsons, 17, was taken off life-support Sunday on her mother authorization after she hanged herself at home in Cole Harbour last week. Nova Scotia Justice Minister Ross Landry said Tuesday that he hopes to meet with Parsons' mother, Leah, to "discuss her experience with the justice system." Landry has been reviewing details of the case and consulting with officials, according to a statement.

"I know that law enforcement and the public prosecution service do their best, every day, to administer and enforce the law," Landry said. "I am committed to exploring the mechanisms that exist to review the actions of all relevant authorities to ensure the system is always working to the best of its ability, in pursuit of justice."

In a lengthy post on a Facebook tribute page to her daughter, Leah Parsons outlined what she says led to her daughter's suicide. In November 2011, Parsons said, Rehtaeh went with a friend to another's home, where she was raped by four teenage boys.

"One of those boys took a photo of her being raped and decided it would be fun to distribute the photo to everyone in Rehtaeh's school and community, where it quickly went viral," Parsons wrote. "Because the boys already had a 'slut' story, the victim of the rape Rehtaeh was considered a SLUT."

Parsons wrote that her daughter's life soon became "so bad she had to move out of her own community to try to start anew in Halifax," and she began to "struggle emotionally with depression and anger."

Rehtaeh was hospitalized for six weeks when her thoughts turned toward suicide. Eventually, a few friends began to support her, and she returned home.

Police investigating the case said that they concluded that it came down to a "he said, she said" situation, Parsons wrote. She said that she was told by investigators that they believed the boys raped Rehtaeh, but "the proof in a court of law was difficult to gather."

On April 4, after a period during which Rehtaeh had become tranquil and even made plans for the upcoming weekend, according to Parsons, Rehtaeh had an outburst, and locked herself in the bathroom. By the time Parsons was able to enter, she wrote, it was too late. Rehtaeh was rushed to the hospital and placed on life support, from which she was removed Sunday night.

Calls placed by ABCNews.com to Leah Parsons were not immediately returned.

Cpl. Scott MacRae, spokesman for Halifax Royal Canadian Mounted Police, told ABCNews.com that the investigation into the alleged rape started in November 2011 and lasted almost a year.

"At the end of the completed of investigation, police, along with the crown attorney, concluded there was insufficient evidence to proceed with charges," he said.

MacRae said that during the course of the investigation, the photograph in question was analyzed to see if it met the criteria for child porn, or showed signs of any criminal nature. MacRae emphasized that the alleged photo of Rehtaeh being raped is only one piece of a potential case against the alleged rapists. He said that he is unable to confirm any of the details of Parsons' account of the alleged rape.

MacRae said that police are aware of Minister Landry's comments about reviewing details of the case, and said that any time police activity is called into question his department will look into it.

MacRae said that he is concerned that social media will perpetuate misinformation with this particular case.

"There are things at play regarding the sensitivity about the family," he said. "The nature of the circumstances around this case is complex. What concerns us is the misinformation that we're going to see."

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...