Rehtaeh Parsons: Two Arrested After Cyberbullied Teen Commits Suicide

Nathan Francis

Rehtaeh Parsons took her own earlier this year after relentless cyberbullying from peers at her high school, and now police in Canada are holding two boys responsible.

Parsons' mother Leah said Rehtaeh was sexually assaulted by four boys when she was 15. After the incident, Rehtaeh was mocked by classmates, with a photo of the attack being shared in the school and through social media.

Though the alleged rape took place in late 2011, Rehtaeh Parsons suffered ongoing harassment and fell into a depression. She tried to take her life in April and was kept on life support for several days before dying.

On Thursday, Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested two males in connection to the case and are questioning them. The ages of the two males were not released, and they have not yet been charged. A police spokesman said he didn't know if they boys were identified through cell phone pictures of the alleged assault.

Leah Parsons was informed of the arrest early Thursday morning, saying the two boys were "at the heart" in the incident.

"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," she said.

In the weeks after Parsons' suicide, the teen's family faced harassment in their neighborhood. Someone peppered their street with bright flyers that read: "Speak the truth. There's two sides to every story. Listen before you judge. The truth will come out. Stay strong and support the boys."

"It just felt like someone kicked me in the stomach. How dare they do that?" Leah Parsons told Global News at the time. "My daughter is gone because of them, and they have the nerve to show up on my street and my community where my children live and keep harassing us."

Police in Canada originally said there was insufficient evidence to bring charges in the case, but they slowly built evidence to lead to Thursday's arrests.

"Early on in this investigation, it surrounded the tragic death of Rehtaeh Parsons. There was talk of photographs, there was talk of sexual assault," said RCMP Cpl. Scott MacRae. "This file now has been taking several months."

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