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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Canadian Justice System Failed Teen Gang Rape and Bully Victim Who Committed Suicide


Rehtaeh Parsons
I came across this story in the news today and was deeply saddened to hear of the senseless loss of a young and beautiful girls life.

According to reports, the mother of a teenage girl from Nova Scotia who killed herself after allegedly being raped and photographed by four boys is speaking out, to tell the story behind her daughter’s tragic death.
Rehtaeh Parsons, 17, died on Sunday in hospital after attempting suicide a few days earlier.

She was gang raped by four classmates in 2011, tried to hide it and didn't get a rape test done immediately. By the time the mother found out about it, the police didn't bother to question the accomplices until much later, how long after it doesn't specify, but the police determined it was a 'he said, she said' situation so they didn't press any charges, despite the mother having photo and text evidence of bullying and online harassment by the perpetrators and their peers. One of the rapists took pictures of the rape and published them online, making the rape public, victimizing Rehtaeh all over again.

Her mother transferred her to another school, but the bullying continued from her former friends and other peers in her old school. She sought counseling but sadly it wasn't enough to take away the emotional pain Rehtaeh felt. There was no justice served and her family and Rehtaeh were left to deal with the emotional pain, bullying, harassment and memories of the rape on her own with the help of a few new friends and some counseling.

The Chronicle Herald:
"Rehtaeh Parsons had a goofy sense of humour and loved playing with her little sisters. She wore glasses, had long, dark hair and was a straight-A student whose favourite subject was science.
On Sunday night, the 17-year-old’s family took her off life-support.
Three days earlier, on Thursday night, she hanged herself in the bathroom.
Rehtaeh Parson and family via Facebook.com
It was 17 months before that when “the person Rehtaeh once was all changed,” her mother wrote Monday on a Facebook memorial page.
“She went with a friend to another’s home. In that home, she was raped by four young boys,” wrote Leah Parsons.
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.”
Rehtaeh, a 15-year-old Cole Harbour District High School student at the time, was shunned, wrote her mother.
“They all go to the same school. She couldn’t go back to the school,” Parsons said Monday in an interview.
Rehtaeh spent the past year and a half trying to handle the fallout from that night, said her mother, who runs a dog rescue.
Her daughter moved from Cole Harbour to Halifax to start anew and she checked into a hospital at one point to cope with anger, depression and thoughts of suicide.
Rehtaeh ultimately made some new, supportive friends and heard from some old friends who decided to stand by her, Parsons wrote on Facebook. Rehtaeh returned to Dartmouth, where she was attending Prince Andrew High School.
However, lately the girl had struggled with mood swings, and after an outburst on Thursday, she locked herself in the bathroom, Parsons said in the interview.
“She acted on an impulse, but I truly, in my heart of heart, do not feel she meant to kill herself,” her mother wrote on Facebook.
“By the time I broke into the bathroom, it was too late.”
There are things to be learned from the girl’s death, Parsons said in the interview. That is why she is talking about what happened, and why her daughter did the same.
“Rehtaeh would want her story out there,” she said.
For one thing, social media can be toxic, said the mother. After Rehtaeh left her school, other kids were relentless.
“People texted her all the time, saying ‘Will you have sex with me?’” she remembered. “Girls texting, saying ‘You’re such a slut.’
But then there is the question of how the adults handled the alleged sexual assault that Rehtaeh described to her mother.
The RCMP investigation took a year, said Parsons.
RCMP spokesman Cpl. Scott MacRae confirmed the police are now investigating a sudden death involving a young person.
“An investigation into an earlier sexual assault was completed, and in consultation with the Crown, there was insufficient evidence to lay charges,” MacRae said.
“They didn’t even interview the boys until much, much later. To me, I’d think you’d get the boys right away, separate them.”
When it came to the photo or photos taken that night, “nothing was done about that because they couldn’t prove who had pressed the photo button on the phone,” she said.
She was told that the distribution of the photos is “not really a criminal issue, it’s more of a community issue,” she said.
“Even though she was 15 at the time, which is child pornography.
“The whole case was full of things like that. We didn’t have a rape kit done because we didn’t even know (anything had happened) until several days later when she had a breakdown in my kitchen.
“She was trying to keep it to herself.”
Rehtaeh always cared for the underdog and was interested in social issues, a girl who “read everything she could get her hands on,” said her mother.
On March 3, Rehtaeh posted a photo of herself on Facebook next to a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.:
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”




Here is a loving tribute video her mom made showing pictures of Rehtaeh with her family over the years. Please pray for them and her soul.



According to Mediate, authorities are now investigating Rehtaeh’s death.

BuzzFeed reports that multiple Anonymous-affiliated OP accounts are trying to locate and publish the identities of the four involved in the gang rape. While I don't support Anonymous on many issues, in this case I think they are trying to serve justice where justice wasn't served, but it could lead to endangering more lives and we should leave justice to the legal system. Hopefully the police will do the right thing and charges will be brought forward so those who raped Rehtaeh are convicted in a court of law. 

Here is audio of Rehtaeh Parsons' Mother8:42  recalling the story of Rehtaeh's fate and what happened following the rape. Leah Parson, Rehtaeh's mother says: “I think kids today listen to a story and if that’s the most sensational story to go with they jump on that and they don’t care how it hurts other people. It’s just too easy to Facebook and text, to say and do mean things,” she said.
“They just jump with the rest of them.”

This was just released on her Facebook memorial page:
Halifax Metro Transit is supporting Rehtaeh tommorrow
Photo
Just released:


JUSTICE--Attorney General Seeks Options for Parsons's Case-----------------------------------------------------------------Justice Minister Ross Landry said today, April 9, he has asked senior government officials to present options, as soon as possible, to review the Rehtaeh Parsons case.
"This situation is tragic, I am deeply saddened - as I think are all Nova Scotians - by the death of this young woman," said Mr. Landry. "As a parent, I can't imagine the pain this family is going through at this time. My thoughts are with them."

Mr. Landry said he hopes to meet with Leah Parsons, Rehtaeh's mother, to discuss her experience with the justice system.

"I know that law enforcement and the public prosecution service do their best, every day, to administer and enforce the law," said Mr. Landry. "It's important that Nova Scotians have faith in the justice system and 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."

Mr. Landry said he has been reviewing details of the case and consulting with officials throughout the day, and expects options within the next few days.

Mr. Landry said he hopes to meet with Leah Parsons, Rehtaeh's mother, to discuss her experience with the justice system.
"I know that law enforcement and the public prosecution service do their best, every day, to administer and enforce the law," said Mr. Landry. "It's important that Nova Scotians have faith in the justice system and 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."
Mr. Landry said he has been reviewing details of the case and consulting with officials throughout the day, and expects options within the next few days.

Earlier it was reported that the Justice minister won't review police actions in Rehtaeh's case and as Cj Mulroy  on the Facebook memorial page wrote:
Here is a story that shows the 'lack of balls' in our justice system. The circumstances that caused this young woman to hang herself are disturbing and are a poor reflection on our so called advanced society. When you read it be as enraged as I am and write a letter to the Minister of Justice, Ross Landry. He can and should have the RCMP reopen this case. Think of the boys who raped Rehteah and got away with it. Think of the cruelty of the teens that taunted her. Think of Rehteah's grieving parents. Think of her little sisters. Take a few minutes, send a note to Mr Landry and let him know how you feel about his lack of gumption as the Minister of Justice.

However, this article which came out late Tuesday which confirms the Facebook update, and says the Justice Minister is now investigating after an online petition began circulating which gathered over 3,000 signatures by Tuesday night:
According to CBC.ca, Nova Scotia's Justice Minister said late Tuesday night he was asking his office to look into what actions they could take on the case.
"This situation is tragic, I am deeply saddened — as I think are all Nova Scotians — by the death of this young woman," Ross Landry is quoted a the release.
The statement adds that Landry hopes to meet with Leah Parsons in the coming days.
"It's important that Nova Scotians have faith in the justice system and I am committed to exploring the mechanisms that exist to review the actions of all relevant authorities."
Meanwhile, a psychiatrist at the IWK Children's Hospital in Halifax said adults need to do more to support teens in an evolving society.
Stan Kutcher said what allegedly happened to Rehtaeh used to be the type of story that was kept hush-hush, but social media has changed that, creating a forum for bullying.
"There's really no place for a young person to hide," he said. "We have to be able to expand the number of doors that kids can knock on while they are experiencing these problems."
Kutcher is advising parents to take an active roll when it comes to the online behaviour of their children.
"We spend an awful lot of time teaching kids how to drive, we spent an awful lot of energy ensuring that they can drive responsibly, and we need to do the same with social media."
While teens may be advanced when it comes to using technology, Kutcher said adults need to teach them how to use social media responsibly.


While I can understand her shame and embarrassment the rape was not her fault. I'm sad to hear the counseling and support of friends and her family weren't enough to keep her from blaming and shaming herself. Nobody would side with the rapists on this and would have supported her, unless they are a depraved human being.

We need to teach our children that all life is precious and valuable starting from the womb. While some people may do evil things like rape others and then exploit them publicly to shame them they have to know they are loved and they are the victim not the perpetrator and that their life is of value no matter how ashamed they are or embarrassed they may be.

To those who bullied Rehtaeh, she is not to blame, think before you bully someone as the next time it could be you or someone you love treated this way. Rehtaeh should not have taken her life. May she rest in peace and her family find peace. May the persons responsible for raping her and exploiting her like this suffer the consequences and be punished to the full extent of the law. Keep fighting for justice for Rehtaeh!

Sign the online petition and like her mother's Facebook memorial page to show your support and help seek justice for Rehtaeh. Please share her story so that others will learn that rape, bullying and shame are wrong and we must stand up against it!





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