Rehtaeh Parsons was assaulted at a party in 2011, it was alleged, and after the incident, images of the alleged assault were posted online by other teens party to the actions.
When police investigations determined that he allegations were “he said, she said” despite the evidence readily available on the internet, massive outcry resulted. After Parsons hanged herself in April of 2013, she was discovered and remained in a coma for several days. She was subsequently removed from life support and died.
The online “hacktivist” group Anonymous soon committed to justice for Rehtaeh Parsons, threatening to unmask her alleged assailants if no arrests were made.
Earlier this week, two 18-year-old men were arrested in connection with Parsons’ alleged assault and charged on counts relating to creating and distributing child pornography. After the arrests were announced, RCMP Chief-Supt. Roland Wells said:
“I can tell you that we hope that today’s arrests help the entire community to heal. 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.”
Glen Canning, Rehtaeh’s father, said after the teens — who were not named as they were minors at the time of the alleged assault — were finally arrested:
“She’s dead now. She’s gone. 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.”
While “cyberbullying” loomed large over the Rehtaeh Parsons case, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the term did not fit, and that he found the case sickening:
“I think we’ve got to stop just using just the term bullying to describe some of these things. Bullying to me has a connotation of kids misbehaving. What we are dealing with in some of these circumstances is simply criminal activity. It is youth criminal activity. It is violent criminal activity. It is sexual criminal activity, and it is often Internet criminal activity.”
The teens arrested in Rehtaeh Parsons’ alleged assault are due in court next week.