Nova Scotia

Rehtaeh Parsons case: Teen in explicit photo gets probation

The second person convicted in the Rehtaeh Parsons child pornography case in Nova Scotia has received 12 months probation. The hearing was held this morning in provincial court in Halifax.

Then 17, he admits he was in photo with Cole Harbour, N.S., girl who was victim of bullying

A woman holds a photo at a community vigil to remember Rehtaeh Parsons at Victoria Park in Halifax on April 11, 2013. A man, who was 17 at the time he was charged with child pornography linked to the Parsons case, was given probation during a sentencing hearing Thursday. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

The second person convicted in the Rehtaeh Parsons child pornography case in Nova Scotia has been sentenced to 12 months probation.

The sentencing hearing was held Thursday morning in Halifax in provincial court.

The man, whose identity is protected because he was 17 at the time of the offence, admitted to posing with Parsons at a house party in Cole Harbour, N.S., in a photo taken two years ago that was later circulated online.

Judge Gregory Lenehan also ordered the man to undergo a mental health assessment.

"This may be weighing on you more than you realize," he said.

The judge also reinforced an existing order barring the man from contacting the Parsons family or the man who took the photo.

The man's criminal record will be visible for five years, a departure from the usual procedure of sealing youth convictions. 

You should have been crying when she was alive.- Judge Gregory Lenehan, provincial court

The judge told the man, who recently turned 20, that he accepted his claim that he did not participate in the bullying against Parsons.

But added: "This was a vile crime, the consequences were tragic; they were the worst possible."

The man faces separate charges of assault and making death threats.

The pre-sentence report says the man cried when he learned Parsons had died.

"You should have been crying while she was alive," Lenehan told the man.

He said the photo was a "gross violation of the personal integrity of Ms. Parsons" and that the man had shown "utter contempt for Ms. Parsons," saying she was "no more than a prop for his enjoyment."

'I made a huge mistake'

The man spoke to the court earlier. He said things have been "twisted."

"I made a huge mistake," he said, adding that he had apologized to Parsons in the days after the photo began circulating and felt guilt for sharing it.

However, he said, "I will not live with the guilt of someone passing away."

Both the Crown and defence lawyers recommended probation. 

The photo shows Parsons and the 17-year-old both naked from the waist down, with him pressed against her. He's looking at the camera and giving a thumbs-up.

The photo is now a sealed court exhibit.

Parsons, who learned of the photo when it appeared on social media, faced intense bullying over it and took her own life in April 2013.

The teen who took the photo pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography in November. 

Murray Segal, a former Ontario deputy attorney general who was appointed to run an independent inquiry into the handling of the case, is expected to return to Nova Scotia next month to resume the work that was put on hold when the court cases were launched.