Anti-bullying group seeks top court intervener status
The girl, known as A.B. in court rulings, has appealed to the Supreme Court to have disparaging Facebook postings about her kept secret.
The case could ultimately weigh the privacy of someone who has been tormented against the public's right to transparency in the legal system.
BullyingCanada Inc., a national charitable organization, has submitted an application to the court to intervene.
"BullyingCanada has extensive knowledge in the areas of bullying and, in particular, cyber bullying," the group's co-founder and executive director Rob Frenette stated in a news release.
"We are asking the Supreme Court to allow this case to proceed while ensuring the victim remains anonymous," he said.
"We believe there is significant likelihood of irreparable harm if the anonymity and publication ban are not upheld."
The Nova Scotia teen has appealed a decision to reject her request that she be permitted to pursue a defamation suit by concealing her identity and that a publication ban be imposed to deny access to the words posted on Facebook, which she claims were defamatory.
"With the continued rise of access to the internet and social media, more and more teens are being bullied while the bullies themselves remain anonymous," said Brian Murphy, the lawyer for BullyingCanada and former Liberal Moncton MP.
"We are asking the Supreme Court to allow us to intervene to present evidence about how bullying can affect children and their families — mentally, physically and emotionally," he said.
The profile contained comments on her weight and appearance and, it is alleged, "scandalous sexual commentary of a private and intimate nature," as the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal characterized it. The profile was taken down later that month.
The girl's lawyer, Michelle Awad, applied to the courts to force the Maritimes internet provider Eastlink to provide the name of the Dartmouth-based customer who posted and updated the profile.
But she asked that the judge shield the girl's identity and the content of the hoax Facebook profile from publication.
The judge agreed to order Eastlink to comply, but denied the publication ban. The girl's appeal to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court was also denied.
The earliest the top court would likely rule on the case would be fall 2012.
Frenette co-developed BullyingCanada.ca, the first youth-created anti-bullying website in Canada, in 2006. It helps youth throughout Canada to deal with bullying by providing information and counselling through the site and its 24-hour toll-free help line.
Frenette also worked with the former government and opposition to have Dec. 17 declared Anti-bullying Day in New Brunswick. He was part of beefing up the education policy on bullying and organized an anti-bullying summit last year in Fredericton, where more than 100 participants discussed how to eliminate bullying.
The 22-year-old was named to the Order of New Brunswick in August, becoming the youngest person ever to receive the province's highest honour.